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Indian Case Summary

Ashoka Kumar Thakur vs Union Of India And Ors on 10 April, 2008 – Case Summary

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In the case of Ashoka Kumar Thakur vs Union Of India And Ors on 10 April, 2008, the Supreme Court of India was faced with a complex and significant issue that had far-reaching consequences. The case was presided over by Dr. Arijit Pasayat and C.K. Thakker.

Facts of the Case

The petitioner, Ashoka Kumar Thakur, challenged the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act 2006 (the ‘Act’) and the 93rd Amendment to the Constitution of India, 1950 (the ‘Constitution’). The Act and the Amendment were aimed at providing reservations/quotas for a class of people described as “unidentifiable” or “undetermined”. The respondents justified their action by labelling them as measures taken for the upliftment of a vast majority of people who have suffered social humiliation and sneer for their social backwardness.

Issues Raised

The case raised several complex questions, including whether the expressions ‘class’ and ‘castes’ are synonyms, whether reservations provide the only solution for social empowerment measures, and the alleged lack of concern for the economically weaker group of citizens. The petitioners argued that these measures perpetuate backwardness and do not remove them. They also questioned the logic of providing reservations without any definite data regarding backwardness.

Court’s Observations

The court observed that the Constitution contemplates a casteless society and prohibits untouchability in the background of Article 17. It noted that both in Articles 15 and 16, the stress is on non-discrimination on the ground of castes. The court pointed out that education is a great leveller and the ultimate object is that every Indian citizen should have the social status which is not inferior to another.

The court also noted that Article 16(4) empowers the State to make provision for the reservation of appointments and posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which in the opinion of the State is not adequately represented in the services of the State. The stress is on the backwardness of the citizens and inadequate representation in the services under the State.

The court further observed that the relevance of the parliamentary debate or the speech of the Minister has been highlighted by this Court in many cases. It is a settled position in law that there can be only limited use of the parliamentary debate. The Courts should not normally critically analyse the proceedings of Parliament.

Conclusion

The case of Ashoka Kumar Thakur vs Union Of India And Ors is a landmark case that delves into the complexities of reservation policies in India. It raises significant questions about the nature of social justice, the role of the state in promoting equality, and the impact of reservation policies on society. The court’s observations provide a nuanced understanding of these issues, highlighting the need for a balanced approach that respects the principles of equality and social justice.