Equality and ensuring equal opportunities is the basic principle of the Indian polity and hence duly covered under the Chapter III – Fundamental Rights of the Constitution. The basic principle becomes imperative since contrary to it graded inequalities inequal opportunities, and denial of opportunities have been prevailing in this land for many centuries. The Constitution became operative since 26th January 1950. The right of equality and equal opportunities have not been ensured fully. So the ensuring exercises have to be carried out by both the Union government and State government. In case of infringement of the rights, every citizen has got the right to approach the apex court of the country for the remedy. In that way apex judiciary, apart from other jurisprudent responsibilities, is duty bound to protect the Constitutional provisions.
Based on the constitutional provisions, both the Union and State governments have been enacting laws and issuing notifications for the reservation of the socially and educationally oppressed. There is no time specification for reservation implementation either in the Constitution or in the enactments, issued so far.
Recently, the appeal made by the State of Maharashtra on its legislation to provide reservation for Maratha community, is administered by the Bench of the Supreme Court. While hearing the views of the Central government on its stand of the total reservation exceeding 50 per cent, the presiding judge of the Bench asked an unusual question – ‘How long the reservation to be continued?’ The bone of contention of the Maratha reservation case is, whether the total reservation could exceed the ceiling of 50 per cent or not. There is no specification on the time limit for the continuance of reservation even in the Constitution. Relevance and necessity do not arise to rake up the time limit.
Social injustice has been prevailing in the sub continent for more than 2 millennia. The compensatory social justice could not be dispensed within a time limit. Hence the time limit was not prescribed by the framers of our Constitution. They perceived that time specification to provide reservation will not be relevant and appropriate. Our country attained independence more than 70 years back. Our Constitution came into effect about 50 years back. The very move of the vested interests, who have been upholding the oppression, ironically opposed the reservation by using the equality clause of the Constitution and succeeded.
The enslaving section were enlightened about their position but the enslaved were ignorant. The innings was started not in favour of the masses who needed reservation. The SCs / STs in the oppressed categories have been provided reservation in independent India, though not in proportion to their respective population. In respect of Other Backward Classes it took more than 40 years to commence reservation in Central services and almost 65 years in Central educational institutions. In many States OBC reservation has been just commenced for name sake. Even before the OBC started to taste the feast it was announced as if the feast is over, that they are being excluded as ‘Creamy layer’. Even if they are really provided with reservations, it would remain only in enactments and notifications, without implementation.
To the prescribed levels of reservation to the oppressed sections, it has not been ensured in the various courses of higher education and deployment in all the cadres of State services. Both qualitatively and quantitatively the ensuring reservation has been lagging behind enormously. The apex court has not commented on this belated and slow dispensation of social justice. On the contrary, the Bench of the apex court has raised the point of ‘how long the reservation to be continued’ in the course of its proceeding. The utterance is unconstitutional since time limit is not specified in the Constitution. May it be expected, the Constitutional Court concentrates on the provisions stipulated in the Constitution to speed up the pace and fill up the space in the dispensation of social justice.