1. States can have sub-groups among SC/STs, says court
Order counters 2004 verdict; referred to seven-judge Bench
A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday held that States can sub-classify Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Central List to provide preferential treatment to the “weakest of the weak”.
The Constitution Bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra, said reservation has created inequalities within the reserved castes itself.
‘Struggle within castes’
There is a “caste struggle” within the reserved class as the benefits of reservation are being usurped by a few, the court pointed out.
“The million-dollar question is how to trickle down the benefit to the bottom rung. It is clear that caste, occupation, and poverty are interwoven. The State cannot be deprived of the power to take care of the qualitative and quantitative difference between different classes… to take ameliorative measures,” Justice Mishra wrote for the Constitution Bench.
With this, the Bench took a contrary view to a 2004 judgment delivered by another Coordinate Bench of five judges in the E.V. Chinnaiah case. The Chinnaiah judgment had held that allowing the States to unilaterally “make a class within a class of members of the Scheduled Castes” would amount to tinkering with the Presidential list.
Now with two numerically equal Benches of judges holding contrary viewpoints, the issue has been referred to a seven-judge Bench of the court.