Jharkhand wants new quota Bill placed in Ninth Schedule: What this section of Constitution is

Source: The post is based on the article “Jharkhand wants new quota Bill placed in Ninth Schedule: What this section of Constitution is” published in Indian Express on 14th November 2022.

What is the News?

The Jharkhand Assembly has cleared two Bills, one increasing reservation in vacant government posts and services in the state to 77% and the second to use land records with 1932 as the cut-off year to determine domicile status and the definition of ‘local residents’.

However, the Bills came with a caveat. It said they would come into force only after the Centre carries out amendments to include these in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution.

What is the Ninth Schedule?

The Ninth Schedule contains a list of central and state laws which cannot be challenged in court. 

Currently, 284 such laws are shielded from judicial review. Most of the laws protected under the Schedule concern agriculture/land issues.

The Schedule became a part of the Constitution in 1951 when the document was amended for the first time. 

It was created by the new Article 31B, which along with 31A was brought in by the government to protect laws related to agrarian reform and for abolishing the Zamindari system.

Are laws in the Ninth Schedule completely exempt from judicial scrutiny?

The Ninth Schedule provides the law with a “safe harbour” from judicial review.But the protection is not blanket.

In I R Coelho v State of Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court ruled that while laws placed under Ninth Schedule cannot be challenged on the grounds of violation of fundamental rights, they can be challenged on the ground of violating the basic structure of the Constitution.

The court clarified that the laws cannot escape the “basic structure” test if inserted into the Ninth Schedule after 1973 as it was in 1973 that the basic structure test was evolved in the Kesavananda Bharati case as the ultimate test to examine the constitutional validity of laws.

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