Change quota system: Kerala HC

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - Daily Pioneer published on January 13, 2010

In a landmark judgement, the Kerala High Court on Wednesday endorsed the Government decision to implement reservation of seats for degree and post-graduate courses in colleges and universities for the poor among forward communities. It was high time the quota system changed, said the court while dismissing a petition filed by the Muslim Jama’at Council challenging the decision for educational quota for forward communities.

A division bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice SR Bannurmath and Justice AK Basheer said that the backward communities, including Muslims, had achieved revolutionary progress economically as well as socially through the reservation system prevailing in the country for the past six decades. It said the time had come to end the system of the reservation system. The court also said that the job quota system also should undergo a transformation.

The bench told the petitioners that the decision of the Government was a policy matter and the court could not interfere in it. It also said that the decision was not against the Constitution in it, adding that the Government should have adopted the measure of reserving ten percent seats to the students from the economically weaker sections of the forward communities after being convinced of the need. It said the Government order would not affect the backward communities in any way.

It warned the reservation communities that over-dependence on compassion would be detrimental to their own interests as it could retard their growth in the new circumstances. Instead of relying on the quota system, the students from the backward communities should understand that they were now capable of competing with the other brilliant brains from all over the country to get admissions to higher studies, the judges said.

The State Government had in September, 2008 decided to give seat reservation in colleges and universities for the economically backward of the forward communities. According to the decision, the reservation was to be ten per cent in colleges and 7.5 per cent in universities. In Kerala, the SC/ST combine alone was getting reservation (20 per cent) in the government colleges while in government-aided private colleges, the general merit seats formed 50 per cent of the total seats.

The quota system was a sweet phrase the country had been hearing for the past six decades, the court said. But leaders of the backward communities that had been enjoying the benefits of reservation so far, had the responsibility to come to terms with the new realities, it pointed out. They had the responsibility to encourage students from their communities to face the competitive world, the judges observed.

The High Court pointed out that the reservations in the job sector should also come down gradually. The backward communities should now prepare themselves for the competitions in professional sectors in the changed world, the judges said. They also observed that an imbalance had been created in the social and economic situation of the forward communities in Kerala in the post-Land Reforms Act period.

The judges observed that there was a situation where several brilliant students from forward communities were not getting opportunities for higher education as there were not many seats remaining after the reservations for several sections. In this context, there was nothing wrong in the Government decision to enforce a ten-percent quota in colleges and universities for the economically weak among the forward communities.

Legal experts said that the court’s judgement and observations could have far-reaching consequences in the context of the increasing demands for basing reservation on economic condition instead of social and community positions. The Nair Service Society (NSS), the organization of the Hindu upper caste Nairs, had last month advocated implementation of educational and employment reservation for the economically weak among the forward communities.

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