SC/ST Reservation sub classification: Supreme Court reserves judgement

SC/ST Reservation subclassification: Supreme Court reserves judgment

New Delhi: The Seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgment on whether sub-classification is permissible within the reservation for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes for more backward within the backward classes.

The 7-judge Constitution bench, comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud, Justice BR Gavai, Justice Vikram Nath, Justice Bela M Trivedi, Justice Pankaj Mithal, Justice Manoj Misra and Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, after hearing a clutch of petitions on the permissibility of subclassification within the SC/ST reservation for the third consecutive day and reserved its order.

Senior Advocate Manoj Swarup said that there is heterogeneity within castes and it has to be seen whether the state action fits in the scheme of the constitution as mentioned in Article 341.

In 1950, two colors were being identified, the color of SC and the color of ST, there were shades of these colors … the color of Art 341, and the color of Art 342. Now they are shades…therefore the occasion arose that the term tribe was mentioned in both ways when they were classifying they found that these tribes were more akin to caste, other more akin to tribe, Swarup said.

The CJI said that, the distinction between green and red according to you simply not black and white. They shade into each other, some tribes resemble castes but there is no corresponding inclusion of 342 castes into the tribe. No caste has been constitutionally treated as tribes, Justice Chandrachud said.

The Centre however supported that the backward categories within SC/STs enable the states to frame appropriate policies on subclassification and rationalisation of reserved seats.

The matter has been pending in the Apex Court since 2020. The matter was referred to a 7-judge bench by a 5-judge bench in 2020 in the case State of Punjab v. Davinder Singh.

The five-judge bench observed that the judgement of the coordinate bench in E.V.Chinnaiah v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (2005) 1 SCC 394, which held that sub-classification was not permissible, was required to be reconsidered.

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