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NGO ‘Youth for Equality’ files petition in SC against Constitutional Amendment for 10% reservations

In its petition, Youth For Equality has claimed that the amendment violates "several basic features" of the Constitution. It further stated that "such a manifest and obvious violation of the Constitution ought to be prevented.

A PIL has been filed against the Constitutional Amendment that granted 10% reservations to economically weaker sections from the General Class. An NGO, Youth For Equality, has filed the petition in the Supreme Court.

In its petition, the NGO has claimed that the amendment violates “several basic features” of the Constitution. It further stated that “such a manifest and obvious violation of the Constitution ought to be prevented.

The NGO further claimed, “In Indira Sawhney vs Union of India, 1992 Supp. 3 SCC 217, the Constitution bench specifically stated that the economic criteria cannot be the sole basis for reservations under the Constitution.”

Source: Utkarsh Anand, Legal Editor, CNNNews18 (Twitter)

“By way of the present amendments, the exclusion of the OBCs and the SCs/STs from the scope of the economic reservation essentially implies that only those who are poor from the general categories would avail the benefits of the quotas. Taken together with the fact that the high creamy layer limit of Rs.8 lakh per annum ensures that the elite in the OBCs and SCs/STs capture the reservation benefits repeatedly, the poor sections of these categories remain completely deprived. This is an overwhelming violation of the basic feature of equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution and elsewhere”, the petition states.

The basis on which the NGO is challenging the 10% reservations for the General Class may not stand in Court. The Narendra Modi government has bypassed the Indira Sawhney judgment through its Constitutional Amendment by adding provisions for an entirely new class of reservations that the Court will have to review independently without considering caste and the 50% cap on reservations.

Youth For Equality (YFE) is an NGO that claims to have been formed in the aftermath of the 27% OBC quota bill in educational institutions mooted by the UPA government in 2006. ‘Casteless Society’, ‘Education for All’ and ‘Good Governance’ are some of the ideas that the NGO claims to aim at.

The NGO also states that it opposes caste-based reservations. It states on its website, “We oppose caste-based reservation policy which promotes only a very small section of the society while leaving others deprived. Caste-hatred in the country will increase, if the present policy will be implemented, leading to aggravation of tensions as the government itself consistently identifying and certifying who is a lower caste and who is not. The quota system, created to facilitate the poor will ends up wrongly being utilized by children of rich, which includes politicians, ministers, businessmen, landlords and high-class government officers belonging to specified caste.”

The NGO also advocates for ‘affirmative action’ based on factors other than caste. Some of the factors mentioned are the household income, educational status of parents, sex, places of birth and residence and profession of parents.

There appears to be a contradiction in the NGO’s standpoint. The NGO quite clearly supports affirmative action on the basis of economic factors but is opposing a Bill that seeks to provide reservations on the basis of just that. The primary grudge that the NGO seems to hold is that people from the SC, ST and the OBC communities will not be eligible for the 10% reservations. However, these communities already have been provided with reservations by the Constitution, regardless of their economic status.

YFE also strives to strengthen nationhood and says, “Let prejudices, unreasonable jealousies, and local interest yield to reason and liberality. Let us look to our national character, and to think beyond the present period.” “We strive to reduce inequalities in the social, educational, economic and political field and thus aim at a strong nation where all citizen are united with a bond of fraternity,” it adds.

The NGO lists Common Cause, the NGO which filed a petition against the Rafale deal and the CBI controversy in the Court and which has Prashant Bhushan in its Governing Council, as a “Like Minded Organization“. People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), an organization we have reported on extensively for its intimate links to ‘Urban Naxals’, is also listed as a like-minded organization.

Another like-minded organization that is listed is Lok Manch that has “Jesuits in social action” as one of its training partners. Transparency International, India which is an FCRA NGO is also listed as a like-minded organization.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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