ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Intersectionality and Justice


The recent Supreme Court judgment has decided in favour of the sub-classification of the 15% reservation that has been constitutionally provided to the Scheduled Castes (SCs). It is needless to mention that the existing reservation provisions are based on the coherent conception of caste. This criterion, until the recent judgment, did not allow what could be termed as reservation within reservation. The comment by Anup Surendranath that has appeared in EPW’s pages last week “Limited Imagination on Reservation” did offer noteworthy observation about the possible implications that are likely to result from the judgment. The comment does suggest the necessity to debate the crucial question: How would the dilution of the coherent conception of caste, necessitated by the sub-classification as the single axis for internal distribution of reservations, address the internal disparities? The comment further suggests that the need for the debate would involve the need to approach the issue of sub-classification from the point of view of intersectionality; a framework within which the question of internal disparities could be effectively addressed. The judgment seems to concur with the main thrust of the framework of intersectionality, which treats inequalities as multidimensional rather than unidimensional. Inequalities that exist at the horizontal level among the sub-castes are constitutive of the caste cluster.

However, such a framework, if made to overlap with sub-classification, would produce mutually contradictory conclusions. Thus, on the one hand, it may suggest the existing 15% reservation provision for the SCs as the source that has led to the reinforcement of internal injustices and inequality within the SC cluster. On the other, the judgment may lead one to believe that intersectionality is an adequate framework to detect the perceived sense of monopolisation of reservations, supposedly cornered by a privileged few from within the SC cluster.

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Updated On : 21st Sep, 2020
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