The 103rd constitutional amendment act has been hailed as an important step towards meeting the objectives of social justice in India. Critically examine its relevance.

Equality is the cornerstone and basic feature of the constitution of India. Article 14 of the constitution embodies both formal and substantive equality.

  • According to article 14, every person is equal before the law and discrimination solely on the ground of caste, creed, religion, sex is not allowed.
  • Also, every individual has different socio-economic realities and turning blind eye to the prevalent inequalities will further aggravate it.
  • “To ensure equality, starting line must be same for all”.

Pursuant to this principle, Article 15 and 1 provide for affirmative reservation, i.e. favourable treatment for certain grounds.

103rd Constitutional Amendment Act:

  • It provides reservation in educational institutes as well as public employment to economically weaker sections of the society.
  • Till then, reservation was limited to the socially and educationally backward classes (SC/ST) and backward classes not adequately represented.
  • Judicial pronouncements like Indira Sawhney classified that economic means cannot be the sole factor to grant reservation.
  • In light of this, constitutional amendment was made.

Significance:

  • Recognizes that poverty has been pervasive phenomenon cutting across all social groups.
  • Facilitate economic means as sole ground for reservation.
  • Consistent with the evolving concept of exclusion of creamy layer.

Criticism:

  • Populist and never ending phenomenon.
  • Reservation is needed to fight years of social exclusion faced by marginalized communities.
  • Not a substitute for anti-poverty program.
  • In violation of spirit of 4-judge bench judgement in Indira Sawhney case.

Nevertheless, it recognizes India’s constitution as living document which must keep pace with need of the time. Given the widespread inequality, 103rd amendment is a landmark step in securing the goal of justice social, economic and political.

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