Reality Check India

Women, disabled not under the 50% cap

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 4, 2007


Try this experiment :

1. Buy a loaf of bread.

2. Cut it into neat slices.

3. Now, turn the loaf on its end and cut vertical slices.

4. Observe the results : You likely just ruined the entire loaf.

The news item with the most far reaching consequences is the recent announcement by the Supreme Court that quotas for the disabled and any future quota for women would not come under the 50% cap, and that any such quota must not be subdivided along the lines of caste.

The background of this judgement is this : A handicapped ‘SC (Dalit)’ person demanded precedence over a general category handicapped person in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

The clarification about the 50% ceiling, prescribed by the apex court in 1992 as part of its judgment upholding the Mandal quota for OBCs, came last week from a division bench comprising Justices S B Sinha and H S Bedi.

“The reservation for women and handicapped persons would not come within the purview thereof,” said the bench.

Source : TOI

My observations :

1. This is the judgement of a division bench, there is probably a need to add these questions to the pending list before the constitution bench hearing the OBC case.

2. Is the 50% limit only for the SC/ST/OBC categories ?

3. Is the introduction of new horizontal categories (women, handicapped, people from a particular region, religion) unconstitutional ?

4. Which section(s) of the constitution allows reservation for women ?

5. What is the new limit to all quotas if the 50% rule which was put forth by Dr Ambedkar is not valid for new categories ?

6. As Dr Bruno would say, not many would take the line of “merit is affected” when it comes to the proposed women’s quota.

The politicians have not picked up on this judgement. Horizontal quotas do not result in vote banks, but they can be used as a tool to keep one step ahead of political rivals. This is to the great detriment of the constitutional guarantee of the right to equality for those left out of this or that reserved category.