In this part of the case study, we will try to get information about the Indira Sawhney case in today’s article. Because this case is considered to be the most important Supreme Court case in the history of India from social and political point of view. Whatever may be your ideology in the judicial process, it is the rule of modern democracy to give decisions on the basis of facts and on the basis of evidence. Therefore, the decision which was given by the court in this case, we get to see the results of it on the politics and society of the country.
We get to see the effect of the caste system on the system of India from village to cities, even though we say that caste system does not exist in today’s date. We do not believe in the caste system, how good it would have been if the caste system would have ended just by saying this. In reality it is not so, even today we see that marriage is seen only within the marriage caste. The educated intelligentsia of the society does not even know that caste system is considered a bad system in sociology.
The educated person of the society considers the caste system as his pride and praises his diversity. That’s why we must have read thousands of articles and articles on Mandal Commission and Indira Sawhney case, but while reading this, we also have to understand what is the preconceived notion of the author. Reservation is a bad thing and it divides the society, we see this argument given by the intellectuals of the society many times. Therefore, the elite class of India has to see and observe what is its judicial character.
Political situation and Indira Sawhney Case –
The period of 1990 was when the political situation in India had become quite complex and no political party was getting a clear majority. At the same time, the Janata Party government was formed under the leadership of VP Singh. VP Shangh wanted such an issue to run this government so that his politics could become effective and the power that weakened his government could be put to an end.
So he decided to implement the recommendations of the Mandal Commission and tried to please the majority OBC society of the society. But due to this the Hindutva people involved in this government under the leadership of Advani did not like this decision. But openly opposing it was politically risky, so he tried to attract Mandal’s awakening on the issue of Hindutva through Rath Yatra and he was successful in this.
After the implementation of the Mandal Commission, fronts started coming out across the country in protest and in support. Meanwhile, Indira Sawhney, a journalist, had filed a petition against it in the Supreme Court. In which giving reservation on the basis of caste, it will be the reason for dividing the country, he put this argument. He believed that the right to equality given by the Constitution and the reservation given by the Mandal Commission were contradictory.
What is a Indira Sawhney Case ? –
Indira Sawhney was a Delhi-based journalist who filed a petition in the Supreme Court on April 1, 1990, against Prime Minister V.P. Singh’s government’s decision to implement the Mandal Commission. By the time this matter was going on in the court, the government had changed twice and the Congress government came to power which was running under the leadership of Narasimha Rao.
The Supreme Court accepted the 27% reservation given by the government to OBCs and also accepted that if the social and educational backwardness is proved on the basis of caste, then this reservation can be given by the government. Creamy Layer This principle was brought to the fore by a bench of 9 judges while giving reservation to OBCs, in which those whose income is more than the prescribed criteria, they will not be able to take advantage of this reservation.
Along with this, the Supreme Court decided to give more than 50 percent reservation, it would be a violation of the principle of equality of the constitution. The reservation given on economic grounds was quashed by the Supreme Court. The court believed that the provision of reservation can be given in the constitution only on social and educational grounds. Therefore, giving reservation on economic basis would be against the constitution.
In this way, in this case, in Indira Sawhney’s case, the bench of nine judges, by the decision of 6 vs. 3, did this case to some extent in favor of the government and declared economic reservation as unconstitutional.
Facts of Indira Sawhney Case –
When Article 340 was created by the framer of the Constitution and in addition to the Scheduled Castes and the Jamaatis, there is also a class that is socially and educationally backward. But what will be the explanation of backwardness, it has not been decided by any institution till date. In the Indira Sawhney case, giving reservation on the basis of caste, it is a violation of the right to equality, this argument was given by the petitioner but the court rejected it completely.
The Mandal Commission has recommended 27 per cent reservation on the basis of the 1931 OBC census. Indira Sawhney’s main opposition was the reason the government had this decision.
- This reservation given to OBCs is a violation of the right of equal treaty of the Constitution.
- Caste is not appropriate to determine the backwardness of a society.
- Due to reservation, the efficiency of government institutions will be affected.
The decision was given by the Supreme Court on November 16, 1992, in which the caste basis for determining the reservation was recognized as constitutional to prove the backwardness. 27 per cent reservation was declared valid, but the provision of creamy layer was implemented under which reservation would not be available above the prescribed income. Reservation given by the Narasimha Rao government was declared invalid, saying that reservation cannot be given on an economic basis.
Indira Sawhney Case & Creamylayer –
Creamy layer This term was legally first seen through this case by the Supreme Court. In which this term was used in the society in which people have developed economically and educationally through the reservation. OBCs did not get the benefit of reservation earlier, so this term was used for the first time for the people of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Jamaatis. However, as this party was not in this case, this term was used for the first time for OBC.
People born more than one lakh will not get the benefit of this reservation, we have seen it increasing this amount till date by changing the rules of the government from time to time. The court was of the view that the people of the society who are financially and educationally well-off will take more advantage of this reservation. Therefore, this creamy layer is very important, the court considered it.
In the concept of creamy layer, it was implemented for the children of high-ranking persons of the government system and children of government officials. So that the genuinely backward people of OBC can get its benefit. This provision was initially used for education and government jobs. There are many controversies on this concept and questions have been raised about its constitutionality.
But today this concept is used for OBC reservation and it is being recommended to use it for all other reservations, but it is a very difficult matter due to Scheduled Castes and Tribes being very aware of this OBC.
Up to 50% Limit on Reservation –
Referring to Article 16(4) by the Supreme Court, states can make a provision for reservation for the representation of backward people, but on the other hand, the Constitution also gives the right to equality, citing the discussion of the Constituent Assembly to balance it. More than fifty percent reservation cannot be given, this interpretation was made by the court. In reality, many states like Tamil Nadu have given more reservation than this limit in their state.
This interpretation of fifty percent has been questioned by many constitutional scholars, in which they believe that the Supreme Court does not have the right to write the constitution. That’s why this fifty percent rule is unconstitutional. At the time of Maratha reservation in 2018, this fifty percent rule needs to be reconsidered by the counsel of the Government of Maharashtra.
Made such an argument and said that it should be reconsidered through a bench of 11 judges, but at that time the court rejected this demand and supported this dignity. The court believed that the right to equality and the right to equal protection, in view of this, the limit of fifty percent cannot be abolished.
Key Features of Indira Sawhney Case –
The Indira Sawhney case, also known as the Mandal Commission case, is a landmark judgment in Indian constitutional history. The case dealt with the issue of reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in public sector jobs. Here are the key features of the case:
- Constitutionality of the reservation policy: The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the reservation policy and recognized the need for social justice to address historical injustices and discrimination against certain social groups.
- Empirical basis for reservation: The court recognized the need for an empirical basis for the reservation policy and held that the reservation policy for OBCs was based on empirical data.
- Reservation limits: The court laid down certain guidelines for the implementation of the reservation policy, including a cap of 50% on total reservation and periodic review of the policy.
- Backwardness criteria: The court held that social and educational backwardness, along with inadequate representation in public services, are the criteria for determining backwardness for the purposes of reservation.
- Reservation in promotions: The court held that the reservation policy could not be extended to promotions in public sector jobs, except in cases where there is adequate representation of the backward classes in the concerned posts.
- Creamy layer exclusion: The court held that the “creamy layer” among the backward classes, i.e., those who are relatively affluent and not socially and educationally backward, should be excluded from the benefits of reservation.
- No reservation for economically backward classes: The court held that there could be no reservation for economically backward classes as poverty alone cannot be the criterion for backwardness.
These are some of the key features of the Indira Sawhney case, which has had a far-reaching impact on Indian society and politics.
Critical Analysis of Indira Sawhney Case-
- Positive aspects:
(a) Recognition of social justice: The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the reservation policy and recognized the need for social justice to address historical injustices and discrimination against certain social groups.
(b) Empirical basis for reservation: The court recognized the need for an empirical basis for the reservation policy and held that the reservation policy for OBCs was based on empirical data.
(c) Limits on reservation: The court laid down certain guidelines for the implementation of the reservation policy, including a cap of 50% on total reservation and periodic review of the policy.
- Negative aspects:
(a) Caste-based reservation: The reservation policy is based on caste and has been criticized for perpetuating caste divisions in society.
(b) Lack of diversity: The policy of reservation has been criticized for creating a lack of diversity in the public sector and perpetuating the dominance of certain social groups.
(c) Inadequate representation: The reservation policy has been criticized for not adequately representing all socially and economically disadvantaged groups, such as the poor and marginalized communities.
(d) Reservation as a political tool: The reservation policy has been criticized for being used as a political tool by political parties to gain votes and power, rather than being a genuine effort to address social inequalities.
In conclusion, the Indira Sawhney case is a landmark judgment in Indian constitutional history that recognized the need for social justice and the reservation policy for OBCs. However, the case has been subject to criticism for perpetuating caste divisions, lack of diversity, and inadequate representation. It is important to ensure that reservation policies are based on genuine efforts to address social inequalities and not used as a political tool.
Features of Indira Sawhney Case –
- A petition against OBC reservation was filed in the Supreme Court by Indira Sawhney on 1 April 1990 and its decision was given on 16 November 1992.
- Through this case, three important decisions were taken by the Supreme Court, in which the reservation limit of fifty percent was kept, creamy layer was implemented and the Mandal Commission’s recommendations were declared constitutional, saying that reservation could be given on the basis of caste.
- The Bench of 9 judges gave this decision in the decision of 6 vs 3.
- Implementation of Mandal Commission Recommendations This was a political decision by the VP Shing government, which reduced the Janata Party government to a minority.
- Chandrashekhar established the government with the help of the Congress, which did not last long and again the Congress came to power.
- The implementation of the Mandal Commission caused a lot of stir in the politics of India and fronts were taken out in support and against reservation.
- There was a lot of pressure from the society while giving its decision to the Supreme Court, but the court took the decision in a constitutional way.
- For Mandal Commission, 27 percent reservation was fixed on the basis of the OBC census of 1931.
- Socially and educationally backwardness, this reason has been prescribed for reservation, which has been told according to Article 16(4).
In this way we have seen how important the Indira Sawhney case has been from the point of view of India’s politics and social cause. Due to the recommendations of the Mandal Commission in North India, we saw the rise of many important leaders who had established themselves in the politics of India for the next 30 years on the basis of their OBC politics.
While hearing the petition of Indira Sawhney, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that reservations cannot be given on the basis of caste and said that the government has the right to give reservation on the basis of caste. This case, which started in 1990, went on till 1992, by then the government had changed three times and in view of the issue of OBC reservation on behalf of the Narasimha Rao government, an attempt was made to please the upper caste by raising the issue of 10 per cent reservation on economic grounds.
Declaring the reservation given by the Supreme Court on economic grounds as unconstitutional, the Constitution argued that a reservation can be given only after proving backwardness on the basis of social and educational reservation. The 9-judge bench, while giving a verdict in support of OBC reservation by this difference of 6 versus 3, imposed a restriction of fifty percent on it and ordered the government to follow the creamy layer concept.