Part III of the Indian Constitution (Article 12 to 35) which contains the Fundamental Rights is considered as the cornerstone and soul of the Constitution and Indian Democracy. These fundamental rights were included in the Constitution because they were considered essential for the personality development of every individual. They are also essential for the protection of citizens from any arbitrary State actions and to preserve their human dignity and self-respect. Every Indian citizen, irrespective of race, religion, caste or sex, have been given the right to move the Supreme Court and the High Courts for the enforcement of their fundamental rights. The Constitution guarantees six fundamental rights to Indian citizens which are as follows:
1. Right to Equality (Articles 14 – 18)
2. Right to Freedom (Articles 19 – 22)
3. Right against Exploitation (Articles 23 – 24)
4. Rights to freedom of Religion (Articles 25 – 28)
5. Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29 – 30)
6. Right to constitutional Remedies (Articles 32 – 35)
In India, the backward communities are being given reservations in government jobs and educational institutions in the name of adhering to the Fundamental Rights. But actually, the system of reservations instead of protecting Fundamental Rights is violating it in the most crude and brutal manner. This violation of Fundamental Rights (mainly Right to Equality) is causing serious disrespect and non-adherence to the Indian Constitution which is leading to social and economic inequality and injustice to vast sections of the Indian society which is also against the ideals enshrined in the Preamble.
There are simple, easy and logical arguments apart from various Supreme Court judgments, to prove that reservations don’t, in any way, come under the purview of Fundamental Rights, in fact they violate the principle of Fundamental Rights. To start with, Fundamental Rights are supposed to create equality among citizens and protect their interests but reservations have created a social divide on caste lines which has cemented people’s identities to their upper or lower castes. This has single-handedly prevented the creation of Equality in the Indian society and has also hurt the interests of the so called ‘upper caste’ people. Any system which benefits some and hurts other sections of society cannot be listed under policies that strengthen and promote Fundamental Rights. Fundamental Rights is an inclusive concept and doesn’t exclude any section of the society. The Supreme Court has also given the verdict that reservation is not a Fundamental Right. In C.A. Rajendran vs Union of India (1968), it was clearly stated by a five-judge bench that article 16(4) which is related to reservations, was only an enabling provision and not a Fundamental Right. Article 16(4) didn’t impose any constitutional duty upon the State, it only conferred a discretion on the State. This principle was reiterated in several three-judge bench judgments like P and T SC/ST Employees Welfare Association v. Union of India (1988), SBI SC/ST Employees Welfare Association v. State Bank of India (1996), etc.
The Judiciary has done its bit in protecting Fundamental Rights of Indian citizens by giving its verdict on reservations. Now the ball is in the Executive, Legislature and Political Parties’ court. They should overlook their vote-banks and should make people aware of the harm and violation of Fundamental Rights that the System of Reservations is causing. This will help people realize the destructive reality of Reservations and will help in the abolition of the system which will ultimately strengthen and streamline our Political and Democratic system. Being the largest Democracy in the world, India cannot afford to continue with a system that violates ‘The Right to Equality’. India should lead by example when it comes to protection of Fundamental Rights, which necessitates the removal of the exploitative system of reservations. Only then can India realize the dream of becoming a global leader and economic superpower in true sense.