‘I agree with the Supreme Court. It is high time reservation benefited poor SCs, STs and OBCs’

Justice (retd) V. Eshwaraiah shares his observations on a recent Supreme Court judgment that struck down 100 per cent reservation for Adivasis in teaching positions in schools of the Scheduled Areas of Andhra Pradesh. He says 100 per cent reservation for a part of the population goes against the merit-informed basic structure of the Constitution that Ambedkar envisaged

The Chebrolu Leela Prasad Rao vs State of Andhra Pradesh case arose from an Andhra Pradesh government order in the year 2000 about recruitment of schoolteachers in the Scheduled Areas of the state. The order reserved all posts of schoolteachers in these areas for the Scheduled Tribes (STs). This reflected the government’s stand that all seats and positions in public institutions of the Scheduled Areas should go to the STs. But there were a lot of competent candidates among the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and other sections. The petitioner (Chebrolu Leela Prasad Rao) himself is an OBC. When he was 20 years old, he applied for a teaching post in a Scheduled Area where he lived but was declared ineligible because he wasn’t an ST. Many other bright, deserving, poor SCs, OBCs and other economically weaker sections have also suffered. Among the petitioner’s many contentions was that SCs and OBCs have been living in these tribal areas for ages; they don’t have right to property in the Scheduled Areas but they still live there and eke out a livelihood. In fact, Article 371D of the Constitution entitles them, like the STs, to preference over non-residents in admissions to local educational institutions and in recruitment to local public institutions. Denial of teaching positions in local schools to competent candidates among them is a violation of this Article.

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