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The question of reserving 33% of seats in all elective law making bodies like the Lok Sabha or House of people and the state legislatures has been kept pending by the Government of India as well as the Lok Sabha and almost all the political parties for over a period of 18 years.

It is so, why? In India males in Hindu and Islam religion had all along been denying the right to education to their own daughters, from time immemorial. The Hindus had continued to deny the right to education, right to perform religious ceremonies on the death of their parents, right to share in property, right to remarry if one becomes widow, to their own daughters, sisters and to their respective wives. Since Hindus and Muslims alone constitute over 93% of the Indian population, the domination of the males had continued to rule the roost for 2000 years.

One’s own sister, daughter, daughter-in-law and wife had been kept as second class citizen on the basis of sex. Hence the free India has remained as the home of large number of illiterates from among the women.

Secondly the caste system practiced by the four upper castes had penetrated and ingrained the attitude of treating the female as inferior. It is being practised in every caste and sub-caste. The Shastric injunction that the son of a father alone is eligible to perform the last rites is tied with two unbreakable customs and rules.

The first is that male child alone is entitled to inherit the property of the father. The second is the last rites performed by the son alone has the efficacy to prevent his parents from being sent to hell called “Puth”. Because of this belief, women go on bringing forth children till she begets a male child.

On the basis of Quoran, muslim has a right to have four wives at a time for no reason.

Under such circumstances, the Government of India decided to propagate among the people about the importance of family planning, and to teach the idea of remaining contended even if a parent has a female child only. In this regard Dr. S. Chandrasekar, the minister of state for family planning, Government of India and a well known world demographer sought the opinion of Periyar E.V.

Ramasamy in the first week of March 1970 at Chennai. The immediate reply of Periyar E.V. Ramasamy was to “make a law giving 50% of places in education, employment and in every walk of life including share in properties to females.

Then no father, brother and husband will come forward to gather moral courage to oppose 50% reservation to women”. The minister was surprised to receive such a noble idea for the first time.

As a dedicated follower of Periyar E.V.R., I stand for 50% reservation to women in education, employment and in all spheres of life including elective law making bodies for women since women possess intelligence, spirit of endeavour and scarifice as men possess. It is unpardonable and inhuman that the women community should get a lesser share as though as an alm thrown to their own daughters, sisters, and wife. First of all I request the women community irrespective of their religion, Caste and party they belong, to come forward and to assert, demand and fight to achieve 50% reservation in every walk of life for them.

Secondly we diligently and respectfully appeal to every male irrespective of religion to shed the mania of dominance over women ingrained in their minds and thinking for several generations. Then only the proposal for reservation to women in all elective bodies in India could be made available through law.

In Lok Sabha out of 545 seats 543 have to be elected by the people. The proposal of the government at present i.e., 33% reservation worksout to 181 for women. In the present circumstances when 60% of the SC. women are kept illiterate and 75% of the women among the ST remain illiterate and 40% of the women among the BC are kept illiterate and most of the SCs are landless and considerable numbers of BCs are marginal farmers and landless, it is apparent that woman from either SC, ST or BC would be able to come forward boldly to compete the elections in parliament or assembly. That is not the case with upper caste women. They are highly educated, possess economic power and sociability among political leaders. They could very easily compete and knock down many number of seats reserved for women.

Unless there is sub-quota for the depressed classes in the total number of seats reserved for women no woman, belonging to the depressed classes could easily compete and win the seats reserved for women.

Now what is the legal and constitutional position with regard to the system of subquota for the depressed classes’ women in elective bodies? Article 330 of the Constitution speaks as follows:

330. Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People.

(1) Seats shall be reserved in the House of the People for

(a) the Scheduled Castes;

[(b) the Scheduled Tribes except the Scheduled Tribes in the autonomous districts of Assam; and]

(c) the Scheduled Tribes in any State 3[or Union territorry] for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes under clause (1) shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of seats alloted to that State ‘[or Union territory] in the House of the People as the population of the Scheduled Castes in the State 3[or Union territory] or of the Scheduled Tribes in the State 3[or Union territory] or part of the State 3[or Union territory], as the case may be, in respect of which seats are so reserved, bears to the total population of the State 3[or Union territory].

[(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in clause (2), the number of seats reserved in the House of the People for the Scheduled Tribes in the autonomous districts of Assam shall bear to the total number of seats ‘allotted to that State of proportion not less than the population of the Scheduled Tribes in the said autonomous districts bears to the total population of the State.] [Explanation: In this article and in article 332, the expression “population” means the population as ascertained at the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published: Provided that the reference in this Explanation to the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published shall, until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year [2026] have been published, be construed as a reference to the [2001] census.]

As per the provisions available in Article 330 only women from SC and ST are provided with reservation through Sub-quota. Whereas BC women could not get since they have not been provided reservation in article 330 of the Constitution. It is clear beyond doubt.

Again Article 332 speaks about reservation for SC and ST in State Legislatures. It runs as follows:

332. Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States.

(1) Seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, except the Scheduled Tribes in the autonomous districts of Assam], in the Legislative Assembly of every State2.

(2) Seats shall be reserved also for the autonomous districts in the Legislative Assembly of the State of Assam.

(3) The number of seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Asembly of any State under clause (1) shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of seats in the Assembly as the population of the Scheduled Castes in the State or of the Scheduled Tribes in the State or part of the State, as the case may be, in respect of which seats are so reserved bears to the total population of the State.

[(3A) Notwithstanding anything contained in clause (3), until the taking effect, under article 170, of the re-adjustment, on the basis of the first census after the year [2026], of the number of seats in the Legislative Assemblies of the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Megahalay, Mizoram and Nagaland, the seats which shall be reserved for the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly of any such State shall be

(a) if all the seats in the Legislative Assembly of such State in existence on the date of coming into force of the Constitution (Fifty-seventh Amendment) Act, 1987 (hereafter in this clause referred to as the existing Assembly) are held by members of the Scheduled Tribes, all the seats except one;

(b) in any other case, such number of seats as bears to the total number of seats, a proportion not less than the number (as on the said date) of members belonging to the Scheduled Tribes in the existing Assembly bears to the total number of seats in existing Assembly.]

[(3B) Notwithstanding anything contained in clause (3), until the readjustment, under article 170 takes effect on the basis of the first census after the year [2026], of the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State of Tripura, the seats which shall be reserved for the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly, shall be, such number of seats as bears to the total number of seats, a proportion not less than the number, as on the date of coming into force of the Constitution (Seventy-second Amendment) Act, 1992, of members belonging to the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly in existence on the said date bears to the total number of seats in that Assembly.]

(4) The number of seats reserved for an autonomous district in the Legislative Assembly of the State of Assam shall bear to the total number of seats in that Assembly a proportion not less than the population of the district bears to the total population of the State.

(5) The constituencies for the seats reserved for any autonomous district of Assam shall not comprise any area outside that district.

(6) No person who is not a member of a Scheduled Tribe of any autonomous district of the State of Assam shall be eligible for election to the Legislative Assembly of the State from any constituency of that district.

[Provided that for elections to the Legislative Assembly of the State of Assam, the representation of the Scheduled Tribes and non-Scheduled Tribes in the constituencies included in the Bodoland Territorial Areas District, so notified, and existing prior to the constitution of the Bodoland Territorial Areas District, shall be maintained,]

Notes on Article 332

Sub-section (3B) of this article shall not affect any representation in the Legislative Assembly of the State of Tripura until the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly existing at the commencement of this Act. [Section 2 of Constitution (Seventy-second Amendment) Act. 1992]

As per the provisions available in Articles 330 and 332 women from SC and ST alone could get reservation under the system of sub-quota, but not the BC women. In the absence of specific provision for reservation for BCs in Articles 330 and 332 there is no right for the BCs to demand and achieve sub quota for women unless articles 330 and 332 are amended to the effect that BCs also should be made eligible for reservation of seats in proportion to their strength in population in the lawmaking bodies.

The section titled THE PANCHAYATS, put under PART IX of the constitution was added in 1992 by the seventy third amendment of the constitution. It comprises articles 243, 243 A,to 243 ZG.

Article 243 D speaks as follows :

243 D Reservation of seats

(1) Seats shall be reserved for (a) the Scheduled Castes; and (b) the Scheduled Tribes,

in every Panchayat and the number of seats so reserved shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in that Panchayat as the population of the scheduled castes in that Panchayat area or of the Scheduled Tribes in that Panchayat area bears to the total population of that area and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Panchayat.

(2) Not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved under clause (1) shall be reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes or, as the case may be, the Scheduled Tribes.

(3) Not Less than one - third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Panchayat shall be reserved for women and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Panchayat.

I appeal to the leaders of all political parties in general and leaders of BC political parties in particular to understand the problem in right perspective in the light of the constitutional issues discussed above and take all out measures to amend the Constitution to remove the lacuna. We are certain that it is a lacuna. That lacuna should be removed at all cost.

It is surprising that some of the leaders really and sincerely committed to the issue of reservation for women in parliament and legislatures are under the notion that reservation for SC and ST women in Panchayat Act can right away be utilized for making reservation to BCs also in Lok Sabha and in state legislatures. It is thoroughly wrong and that could be understood by the details given above.

The Panchayat act derived its powers from articles 330 and 332 and not otherwise or vice versa. This is the crux of the problem to be tackled by all political party leaders, learned lawers and men in public through a joint discussion and resolution for achieving sub-quota to all the three segments of the BCs namely the SCs, STs and the OBCs.

Any other effort will amount to beating the bush for catching the bird. It would help to deceive the BCs for ever, by their own men and by the state.

- V.Anaimuthu

(Photo courtesy: The Hindu)

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