Leader of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) Hardik Patel has decided to support Congress in Gujarat Assembly elections. Patel had previously gone too far against the BJP and there was no possibility of making a u-turn; he had no other option. Patel’s support is expected to be a face-saving formula for the Congress.
After much contemplation, a proposal put forth by Congress has been accepted by Hardik Patel. The proposal states that Patidars will be given a quota, separate from the existing quotas for OBCs, SCs and STs. This would likely mean a total percentage of quota exceeding the 50 percent ceiling. It is apt to mention that there is a Supreme Court order that the total caste based quota cannot exceed 50 percent.
In the past, many governments have tried to violate the ceiling of 50 percent quota through executive orders and arbitrary laws, but all of them have failed to pass judicial scrutiny. The latest example is Rajasthan, where state government had passed an Act giving quota to Gurnard and some other castes in a manner that exceeded the ceiling. Rajasthan High Court has declared the Act illegal and unconstitutional. In Maharashtra too, the state government had alloted job quota for Marathas, exceeding the limit of 50 percent. That quota was quashed by the Court. The same thing might happen in Gujarat.
Hardik Patel and other leaders of the Patel quota have suggested that an Act of Reservation will be passed by the Assembly and the Act would be placed in the 9th Schedule of Indian Constitution to give it (the Act) an immunity from judicial scrutiny. If an Act is placed in the 9th Schedule of Indian Constitution, the Court cannot adjudicate on it. In Tamilnadu, there is provision of 69 percent quotas in government job and higher educational institutions and they are protected by the 9th Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Patidars of Gujarat are being told that the Tamilnadu model will be followed in Gujarat, and the Gujarat Reservation Act would be placed under 9th Schedule to avoid judicial scrutiny. But, how the state government will place the Act into 9th Schedule remains unclear.
To place any Act into the 9th Schedule, the Constitution needs to be amended. The procedure to amend the Constitution mandates that a Constitution Amendment Bill has to be passed by the majority of two-thirds of the MPs present and voting the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha separately. But is Congress is in a position to amend the Constitution in favor of Patidar reservation? The fact is that Congress has less than 50 members in Lok Sabha, and it is also in minority in Rajya Sabha. It is simply not possible for the party to single-handedly provide Constitutional protection to a Reservation Act.
Patidars should be made to understand by political parties that they cannot get quota because, constitutionally, they don’t deserve it. The Constitution makes provisions of quota in government services and institutions to only those backward (socially and educationally) classes of citizens that are not adequately represented in government services. Patidars of Gujarat are neither socially nor educationally backward, and moreover are they not inadequately represented in government services. Reservations are not a likely outcome for the Patidars of Gujarat.
-Contributed by Kriti Prasad
Picture Credits: freepressjournal.in