[Answered] 103rd amendment act strives to provide the social justice. Critically comment.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Write about 103rd amendment act
Body. Pros and cons of the act.
Conclusion. Way forward.

Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act of 2019 has provided 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the “economically backward” in the unreserved category. Act amends Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution, by adding a clause which allows states to make “special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens”. Principle of social justice calls for- equal treatment of equals and demands an affirmative action for less advantage sections.

Pros of the Act

  • Reduces Poverty: It is expected to help the needy among the higher castes. They will get a better chance to get a job and come out of their pauper state.
  • Reduces fake beneficiaries: It will eliminate the desperation of those who, in the past, resorted to obtain fake Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) certificates.
  • Social justice- It will ensure social justice as poor will be empowered and they will become efficient to buy basic needs and amenities like drinking water, healthcare, shelter etc.
  • Reduce subsidies burden and fiscal pressure- As more people will be uplifted out of poverty, it will lead to less subsidies and use of fiscal resources in other social issues.

Cons/Issues of the act

  • Improper way- Centre hurried and enough discussion on the act was not made in the Parliament. Thus all the caveats of the act were not discussed properly.
  • Lack of objectivity: The government arrived at the figure of 10%, without any proper study and thorough documentation by any commission. Thus arrived 10% is not justified.
  • Systemic failure: An element of injustice is based on the untouchability, whereas pure economic backwardness is due to the systemic inability to provide jobs to the higher castes. The lack of opportunities is not due to untouchability, but due to the inability of the state and the market to provide enough jobs for the qualified and the needy. Indira Sawhney case had further held that social backwardness cannot be determined only with reference to an economic criterion.
  • Discredits the principle of social justice: The principle of social justice calls for ‘equal treatment of equals’ and ‘affirmative action for less advantage sections’. Constitution outlines special provisions for only four classes – SCs, STs, Backward Classes and Anglo Indians in the Articles 330-342 under Part 16. Thus this will create an unequal status.
  • Violation of DPSP- Article 46, says that the state shall promote educational and economic interests of “weaker sections”, in particular SCs and STs, and protect them from “social injustices” and “all forms of exploitation”. Upper castes neither face social injustice nor are subjected to any form of exploitation.
  • Violation of Basic Structure Doctrine: The 10% reservation will be in addition to the existing cap of 50% reservation for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes, taking the total reservation to 60%. This will violate of Article 14 (Right to Equality), which is a part of Basic Structure.

The quota for the economically poor among the upper castes has been seen essentially as a poverty alleviation. The 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act though is a beneficial move, similar moves by previous governments have been judicially reviewed and struck down. It is important to look at alternatives to alleviate the conditions of EWS.

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