The first amendment
First a small quiz.
- Who was Champakam Dorairajan and what does this girl have to do with the Indian constitution ?
Answer at the end of this post
Supreme Court of India excellent online resource
I have found a great source of information in the Supreme Court of India website at http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/chejudis.asp
Various points and counter points are argued by the hoble judges in such clear language on both sides of the issue. You can also find out how the state actively tries to avoid a scientific study of the quota system – and to what lengths it will go to avoid that study (Indira Sawhney Vs Union of India). In Indira Sawhney, the state of Kerala which refused to identify the creamy layer almost ran into a major confrontation with the supreme court. Read it here http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/qrydisp.asp?tfnm=14839
Answer to quiz
Smt Champakam Dorairajan was a girl whose condition forced the Indian Government to introduce the "First Constitutional Amendment" in 1951. Even the Lok Sabha had not been formed at that time. The Lok Sabha would not be formed until 1952.
The story is this:
Champakam Dorairajan was a brahmin girl from the Madras state. In 1951, she could not get admission in a medical college even though she had scored sufficient marks due to a communal GO issued by the government. In 1950 Madras state, the quota system was very different that what it is today. The court states,
With regard to admission of students to the Engineering and Medical Colleges of the State, the Province of Madras had issued an order (known as the Communal G. O.) that seats should be filled in by the selection committee strictly on the following basis, i.e.,
out of every 14 seats,
- 6 were to be allotted to Non-Brahmin (Hindus),
- 2 to Backward Hindus,
- 2 to Brahmins,
- 2 to Harijans.
- 1 to Anglo-Indians and Indian Christians and
- 1 to Muslims
The above system had been in place for a few years. The communal GO did not mention backwardness in anyway. So it can be safely assumed that most of the seats were filled based on caste basis, and it was the most forward of the non-brahmin castes that filled the big quota (6). The communal GO just distributed seats based on a idea to "cap" particular communities.
So the girl (Champakam) moved the Supreme Court and claimed she had been discriminated ONLY based on her birth (caste), the court agreed and struck down the entire GO. Major agitations broke out in TN – leading to political and social upheaval. India had just been formed, the lok sabha had not even met, and the government was forced to amend the constitution for the first time, due to the quota situation in the Madras state. The amendment added a "clause 4 to Section 15"
Clause 4 of Article 15 reads: Nothing in this Article or in Clause 2 of Article 29 shall prevent the state from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
See there, that is why the SC/STs are different from OBCs. The constitution only talks about "classes" not "castes".
Side note: In the process of reading some judgements, it seems like the major problem the court has is that it is unconstitutional to discriminate (positive or negative) based ONLY on caste. The state could discriminate (for social justice reasons) on a number of factors (under 15-4) – of which caste is just one part.
The Kerala Case
Nothing is more fascinating than the case of Kerala and the creamy layer removal. This prompted the famous Indra Sawhney case. Still reading it – will blog about it later. Other bloggers on any side of the issue should also read these cases.
You can read Indira Sawhney here : http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/qrydisp.asp?tfnm=16589
You can read Champakam Dorairajan here :http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/qrydisp.asp?tfnm=1194