Sub- Classification of Schedule Castes- Justified or not - Daily Current Affair Article

The question of justification of sub-classification of Schedule castes arose with the judgment given by bench led by retired justice Arun Mishra in State of Punjab and Others versus Davinder Singh and Others (August 27, 2020). It supported the classification of Scheduled Castes (SCs) into “more backward” and “backward”, and preference to the “more backward” castes for reservation in appointments should be given.

The matter was recommended to 11-judge bench because there was confusion as in Indra Sawhney versus Union Of India And Others (1992) such sub-classification is permissible whereas it was misread by the bench in E.V. Chinnaiah versus State Of Andhra Pradesh And Others (2004) .It was observed by Chinnaiah judgement that state government cannot create sub categories of SC and STs.

Article 16(4) of the Indian Constitution identifies a category ‘backward class of citizens’ and, therefore, if any sub-classification is to be done, should be done for that only. But paragraph 92 A of the Indra Sawhney case is ambiguous on this point.

This ambiguity made the classification of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) of no consequence.

However it was observed that the prevailing social backwardness of SCs is a result of varied forms of discrimination and therefore question of sub-classification is invalid at this place. To clarify this confusion it was necessary to find that are the schedule caste a homogeneous group. The observation made in Chinnaiah case declared the sub-classification as violation of article 14. However, some practical evidences were found in history and present time to show the homogeneity of the SCs.

Schedule caste faced miserable condition given by the upper caste and it had least discrimination within all the sub-caste among SCs. They all had dismal socio-economic status. It was also observed that caste biasness was found in job interviews where SC candidates were not entertained even though after possessing all the required qualifications. This discrimination was not category wise within the Schedule caste. It is because of this that the motions to eliminate the provision of reservation and to restrain reservation for ten years were negated in the Constituent Assembly. This also validates that reservation was not provided to eradicate poverty from these sections of the society.

One of the main discrimination among the SCs was seen in Public Employment. They were and are rarely appointed to higher position of public service, hence it justifies the reservation and that it should continue in its original form. The benefits of reservation are mainly confined to lower and middle rung of government jobs. They hardly get the benefit of reservation at higher position. This discrimination is not to any particular category of SCs but to all SCs in general. This shows the homogeneous nature of SCs.

Even the international bodies have noticed discrimination with SCs in higher service and as recommended by Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which ensures implementation of the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination that emphasizes that India should “apply the reservation policy to all categories of public service posts, including the highest, and extend it to the judiciary”.

Another significant fact of caste based atrocities faced by SCs shows that it is a homogeneous group. As per the NCRB report there is an increase in caste based offences. This has led the parliament to make the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, more stringent. The crime against them is committed irrespective of the sub-category of the scheduled caste the victim belongs to.

Thus it is evident that sub classification within the SCs is irrational and unconstitutional because discrimination and caste-based violence do not depend or differ on the basis of different caste category within SCs. Therefore, the central government must withdraw the proposal of amendment of Article 341 and even insertion of article 342A cannot justify sub-classification of SCs.