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Q. What are the provisions of the Constitution with respect to the welfare of Backward classes?

Q. What are the provisions of the Constitution with respect to the welfare of Backward classes?
Ans. Article 15(4) of the Constitution (inspite of right to equality) enables the State to make special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens and the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes. This provision indicates that there are some backward classes of Citizens other than the S.C./S.T. The Constitution does not define clearly as to what is meant by the term ‘backward class’: however, Article 340 provides for the setting up of a Backward Classes Commission which would determine the criteria of backwardness of citizens, prepare a list of such backward classes and study the difficult conditions of these classes and suggest measures to ameliorate their condition. In 1953, the Government of India appointed a Backward Classes Commission headed by Kaka Kalelkar, but the government could not appreciate the criteria evolved by the commission. However, the Government directed the States to  provide, for the welfare of the Backward classes identified by Kaka Kalelkar Commission.
Again in Sep. 1978, the Government of India appointed another Backward Classes Commission headed by B. P. Mandal, which submitted its report to the Government in December, 1980. However, the then government could not implement its recommendations but the same were implemented by Rastriya Morcha Government in Aug. 1990, after a long wait of 10 years. The Commission has recommended a reservation of 27% in government services in favour of Backward classes. The implementation of 27% reservation in favour of Backward classes in 1990 led to country wide agitation by students who demanded immediate withdrawal of this reservation. The newly extended reservation in favour of Backward classes was also challenged in the Supreme Court through a number of writ petitions. The court deeded these petitions on Nov. 15, 1992 and upheld the recommendations of the Commission and the government order making the said reservation with some modifications. According to this modification, The creamy layer sections (economically developed) among Backward classes should not be given benefit of this reservation. In compliance with the court verdict, the Government of India issued the notification of reservation to Backward classes on Sep. 8, 1993 and provided that the dependents of the President, the Vice-President, Class I & Class 11 officers of the government and persons whose annual income is more than 1 lakh shall not be entitled to avail the benefit of reservation.
Though Article 15(4) states that qualification of backwardness is the social and educational backwardness, the criteria of backwardness has always been debatable and contrwers ial. The Supreme Court in a verdict in 1963 (Balaji Vs. Mysore State) declared that the caste alone can not be the criterion of backwardness. The factor such as poverty, profession birth place, educational and economic progress should also be taken into account while determining the criterian of backwardness. If more than 90% persons belonging to a caste are educationally, socially and  economically backward, such persons should be included in the category of backward’ class. If the government finds after some time that a particular class of citizens is no more a backward class, it should be excluded from the category of such class. In Janki Prasad Vs. State of Jammu and Kashmir case (1973), the Supreme Court observed that an analysis of social backwardness shows that it is primarily caused by economic backwardness, but the element of caste makes it more severe. The criteria of backwardness based solely on caste can no be justified. In State of Andhra Pradesh Vs. Balram (1972) case and also in Basant Vs. State of Karnataka case (1985), the Supreme Court decided that the indication of educational backwardness is that the number of students belonging to a caste out of total students is less in proportion to the population of that caste in the State.
The courts arc empowered to inquire into the matters relating to the criteria of backwardness and inclusion or exclusion of certain castes in the category of backward classes.
As per the provisions of Article 16(4), the State can make provisions for reservation, in government services in favour of Backward classes, if the representation of such classes in government services is not adequate.

 

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