September 1, 2011
Karala Muslim Jama- Ath Council vs. The State of Kerala , The Secretary Higher Education and The Directoe of Collegiate Education.
The government of Kerala reserved 10% of total seats in the higher education for the forward class below poverty line. The petitioner filed writ petition against the order contending that the reservation to the forward classes is ultra vires the constitution and that, Article 15(4) contemplates reservation for the socially and educationally backward classes , Scheduled Class and Scheduled Tribes. The reservation of forward class is the encroachment on the privilege provided to these classes under Constitution.
The petitioner also alleged that such step of government is mere appeasement of the forward class who are in majority in the state. It was further argued that such arrangement would keep the unproportionate representation of the socially and educationally backward classes in educational institutes.
Court disagreed with the petitioner. Stating the importance of competition and better education for development, Court suggested that the privilege provided by the Constitution is supposed to be fading everyday as we develop. Court held that the despite being in fortunate classes, “fortunately or unfortunately” they are devoid of admission to good institutes due to reservation and poverty. The grievances of this class were addressed by the Government through the provision of reservation. Further, Court observed that the number of seats remain same for the backward classes as the number of seats in the institutes is increased by the government to match the present number of seats.
The judgment is progressive in nature, however lacks the constitutional discussion that can be expected out of such matter. Court concluded the matter without discussing constitutionality of reservation in this case and without any substantive discussion on Art 15(4).
In KC Vasant and later in Indra Shawaney and Ashok Kumar Thakur cast was put as one of the criteria to regard a community as SEBC, however, the same can’t be the strict rule per se. The class as said in Art 15(4) is independent identity from caste or community. It can be formed with elements of different community who are socially and economically backward.
The question is can economic backwardness be read alone in Article 15(4) for providing reservations. The previous precedence by Supreme Court establishes that the “class” in Article 15(4) of the constitution doesn’t necessarily constitute a caste or set of castes. It may constitute the class when it can be shown that the caste as a whole is socially and educationally backward. The “socially and educationally” backward essentially constitute the destitute, but it has to be shown that the same destitution is so connected that it is to make them socially inferior as well. When a destitute of forward class can be called socially backward is still untold.