A five-judge bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M R Shah and Aniruddha Bose said preferential treatment of certain classes and castes within the reserved categories is the need of the hour as the benefits of reservation are not percolating down to the “neediest and poorest of poor”.
The Supreme Court has, in recent times, has favoured changes in reservation policy so that the benefits are not usurped by a few groups within a particular category.
A Constitution bench of the apex court had in April held that lists of SCs, STs and OBCs for providing reservation are not “sacrosanct and unalterable”. It suggested that beneficiaries should be revised by the government by removing those who have become affluent over the years and adding those who remain needy and require assistance.
It had that said benefits of reservation were being availed by some communities over the last 70 years and they have become well off economically and socially. It said benefits had not trickled down to all sections and there is dissatisfaction within the ‘reserved’ class which can be addressed by revising the list.
“Now there is a cry within the reserved classes. By now, there are affluents and socially and economically advanced classes within Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. There is voice by deprived persons for social upliftment of some of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, but they still do not permit benefits to trickle down to the needy. Thus, there is a struggle within, as to worthiness for entitlement within reserved classes of SCs, STs and other backward classes,” the court had said.
Agreeing with the contentions that the government is required to revise the lists, the court had said, “It can be done presently without disturbing the percentage of reservation so that benefits trickle down to the needy.”
Giving it ruling on Thursday, the bench said, “The inadequate representation is the fulcrum of the provisions of Article 16(4). In our opinion, it would be open to the State to provide on a rational basis the preferential treatment by fixing reasonable quota out of reserved seats to ensure adequate representation in services. Reservation is a very effective tool for emancipation of the oppressed class. The benefit by and large is not percolating down to the neediest and poorest of the poor.”