The Union government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it was in favour of extending the period of providing reservation to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies, reported The Indian Express.
“We want to add more material to strengthen the case of the government that continuation of reservation is absolutely necessary,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices AS Bopanna, has agreed to hear petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the 104th (Amendment) Act. The hearing will begin on November 21.
The reservation to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Anglo-Indians was first provided under Article 334 of the Constitution that stated that the quota would end after 10 years – in 1960. However, since then, the provision has repeatedly been amended to extend the period of reservation by 10 years.
The 104th (Amendment) Act passed in 2019 extended the reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in legislative bodies for another 10 years. However, the quota for Anglo-Indians was not extended.
The Supreme Court has clarified that it will only look into the extension granted in 2019, and not previous amendments, reported Live Law.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Senior Advocate Arayama Sundaram, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the matter of contention was whether the amendment violated the basic structure of the Constitution, reported Live Law. The basic structure doctrine separates powers of the judiciary and the executive. It also provides for judicial review of laws to safeguard the liberties of citizens.
“You are saying reserving seats for one community deprives another community of the same and thus goes against the basic structure,” Chandrachud observed.
Sundaram also said that the court needed to examine whether objective and quantifiable data was present for granting the extension.