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

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Deprivation of Adivasi Rights

On 2 August 2022, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court delivered its verdict in the case of Satyajit Kumar and Ors v the State of Jharkhand and Ors (2022)The main issue dealt in the appeal is the constitutional validity of the 100% reservations provided to the Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates for the post of teachers in the schools of Scheduled Areas by the Jharkhand government in 2016. This verdict opens up the floodgate for the states listed in the Fifth Schedule to relook at the socio-economic initiatives that were aimed at uplifting the Adivasis from their marginalisation in all walks of life. The High Court of Jharkhand has heavily relied upon this judgment to arrive at their conclusion rather than looking at the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh High Court’s verdict which upheld the 100% reservation as an enabler of social justice. In a similar case, Chebrolu Leela Prasad Rao v the State of Andhra Pradesh (2020), the court has observed that “providing for 100% reservation is not permissible and it is violative of Articles 14 and 16(4) of the Constitution of India.”

The apex court in both these verdicts has stopped at formal or procedural equality only to deny the benefits of substantive equality and distributive justice. The court’s conclusion that providing 100% reservation to the local Adivasis in certain employment opportunities by the governor’s order violates Articles 14 and 16 is illogical, as the reasoning for this assertion is made on the grounds of looking only through the prism of formal rather than substantive equality. The founders of the Constitution have envisaged the attainment of substantive equality through formal equality as only an enabling but not an exclusive condition.

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Updated On : 26th Sep, 2022
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