The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a person belonging to a Scheduled Caste listed in a particular state would not be entitled to reservation benefits if he migrates to another state for employment or education.
“A person notified as a Scheduled Caste in State ‘A’ cannot claim the same status in another state on the basis that he is declared a Scheduled Caste in State ‘A’,” said a Constitution Bench.
The enabling provision under Article 16(4) of the Constitution is to “provide for reservation to classes or categories of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes enumerated in the Presidential orders for a particular state or territory within the geographical area of that state and not beyond”, said the Constitution Bench, headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, in a majority judgment.
However, it said, “… so far as the National Capital Territory of Delhi is concerned, the pan-India reservation rule in force is in accord with the constitutional scheme relating to services under the Union and the states/union territories.”
The court said this while addressing the question of “whether a person belonging to a Scheduled Caste in relation to a particular state is entitled or not to the benefits or concessions allowed to Scheduled Caste candidates in employment in any other state.”
The bench also addressed the question whether the states on their own could add to the Presidential list of SCs/STs for particular states.
Speaking for the majority, including Justices N.V. Ramana, Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and S. Abdul Nazeer, Justice Gogoi said: … that the expression “in relation to that state or union territory” and “for the purpose of this Constitution” used in Articles 341 and 342 would mean that the benefits of reservation provided for by the Constitution would stand confined to geographical territories of a state/UT in respect of which the list of SC/ST have been notified by Presidential orders issued from time to time.”
The court said that if a state wants to extend the benefits of reservation to a class/categories of people beyond those included in the Presidential list for that state, it will have to “prevail” upon the central authority to undertake appropriate parliamentary exercise to amend and expand the list.
“Unilateral action by the states on the touchstone of Article 16(4) of the Constitution could be a possible trigger point of constitutional anarchy, and therefore must be held to be impermissible under the Constitution,” the judgment said.
In her separate judgment, Justice Banumathi agreed with the majority view on the benefits of reservation confined to a particular state but differed on the applicability of pan-India SC/ST reservation list to the Union Territory of Delhi.
There cannot be any distinction between the states and the union territories. Likewise, there can be no distinction between the union territory of Delhi and other UTs, Justice Banumathi said in her minority judgment.
“When the Presidential Orders for listing Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes are notified for various UTs, including the Union Territory of Delhi, extending pan-India reservation to employment falling under the services of UTs, including Delhi, will be against the constitutional scheme and the law laid down by the top court in Marri Chandra Shekhar Rao and Action Committee case,” Justice Banumathi added. (IANS)