New Delhi: In a verdict of far-reaching implications for the government`s reservation policy, the Supreme Court has ruled that Dalit and backward category migrants from one state to another cannot claim reservation in jobs or educational institutions in their new domicile.
The ruling, which implies members of the Scheduled Castes (SC), Schedules Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC), who migrate to Delhi or Mumbai from Bihar, Assam or Kerala cannot get benefit of reservation in educational institutions run by the state governments there, was delivered Aug 4 by a bench of Justices SB Sinha (since retired) and Cyriac Joseph.
But the verdict does not affect central educational institutions or central government jobs, which will continue to be open for reserved category candidates from across the country.
The bench gave its ruling while reserving a Delhi High Court verdict that allowed OBC candidates from other states to avail of quota benefits in Delhi on the basis of a circular that facilitated issuance of OBC certificates to those whose father possessed a similar document in his own state.
The apex court rejected the centre`s argument that migrants from other states, who are members of SC/ST in their states, must be allowed to take the benefit of their status, particularly those who had been residing in Delhi for a period of more than five years and those who are born and brought up in Delhi.
This was against Article 341 and Article 342 of the Constitution that mandated identification of SC/ST in a particular state/UT, the bench said.
The bench also rejected the centre`s contention that it was entitled to lay down policies involving union territory services and issue executive instructions under Article 239 of the Constitution.
"Both the Central government and the state government indisputably may lay down a policy decision in regard to reservation having regard to Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India but such a policy cannot violate other constitutional provisions. A policy cannot have primacy over the constitutional scheme," it said.
The court agreed with the arguments of petitioners Subhash Chandra and Sarv Rural and Urban Welfare Society that a person belonging to a caste notified as Scheduled Caste in one state cannot automatically claim the benefit of any notification specifying a similar caste in another state or Union Territory.
"Persons belonging to a particular caste or tribe may suffer some disadvantages in one state but may not suffer the same disadvantages in the other. Our constitutional scheme, therefore, seeks to identify the social and economic backwardness of people having regard to the state or UT as a unit," it said.
"When a person is held to be a member of Scheduled Caste for one state, he cannot be treated as such in another," it added.