Justice S Ravindra Bhat in a separate ruling referred to various schemes currently available to students from these sections and said “states and the Union government may also revisit the threshold limits and their tendency to exclude otherwise deserving candidates”.
CALLING FOR more affirmative action to assist Schedules Castes, Scheduled Tribes and backward classes, the Supreme Court on Wednesday stressed the need for “constant scrutiny, review and revision” of the effectiveness and quantum of scholarship and fellowship schemes provided to them.
While agreeing with the conclusion of the five-judge Constitution bench on the Maratha quota law that the 50 per cent cap set by the 1992 Indra Sawhney judgment should not be breached, Justice S Ravindra Bhat in a separate ruling referred to various schemes currently available to students from these sections and said “states and the Union government may also revisit the threshold limits and their tendency to exclude otherwise deserving candidates”.
“This data makes a case for an intensive study into the adequacy or otherwise of scholarships, quantum disbursed, eligibility criteria… and reconsideration about introducing other facilities, such as incentivising scholarships, grants and interest free or extremely low interest education loans to widen the net of recipients and beneficiaries,” Justice Bhat said in his ruling.
Touching on the possibilities for affirmative action other than reservation, he said: “There is empirical evidence… in different sectors that access to productive employment is confined to a few sections of the workforce, among the most backward of classes, while the rest eke out a living in the informal economy.”
The ruling added that “private sector can substantively contribute to alleviate discrimination and inequality… through its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes…”. It said the definition and scope of CSR “needs to be broadened to include measures to counteract the natural tendencies towards exclusion of certain groups” based on predominant social stereotypes.
Private companies, he said, can also pay attention to supplier diversity in matters of procurement. “By encouraging supplies from firms owned by SCs, STs, or those from backward class or deprived classes, the large organised private sector in India could give a huge boost to the micro, medium and small enterprises owned by entrepreneurs from such marginalised groups”.
“Innovative employment incentives to the private sector, especially in the manner of employment in contracts or projects awarded by the state or its instrumentalities also need to be closely examined and implemented,” the ruling added.
“It is time that the states and the Union government gather data about the extent and reach of the existing schemes for employment, and in the field of education, take steps to ensure greater access, by wherever necessary, increasing funding, increasing the number and extent of coverage of scholarships, and setting up all manner of special institutions which can train candidates aspiring for higher education, to increase their chances of entry in admission tests, etc.,” the ruling said.
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