SUBRATA ACHARJEE Vs. UNION OF INDIA
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
UNION OF INDIA
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Banerjee, J. -
(1.)The validity of the Constitution (72nd Amendment) Act, 1992 is the core question in this writ petition and pertains to the issue of reservation. The Constitution (72nd Amendment) Act, 1992 introduced a further sub-Article (3B) to the existing Art. 332, which the learned Advocate appearing in support of the petition has contended, runs counter to the constitutional requirement of population-based representation for the people and proportional reservation for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States. It would be convenient, however, to advert to the relevant extracts of Art. 332 at this juncture and the samd reads as below :
"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 State.
(3) The number of seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly of any State under Cl. (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.
(3B) Notwithstanding anything contained in Cl. (3), until the re-adjustment, under Art. 170, takes effect on the basis of the first census after the year 2000, 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."
(2.)As indicated above, the sub-Art. (3B) stands incorporated in the Constitution by the above-noted Act of 1992 with effect from 5th December, 1992. It is this incorporation, which stands challenged on the ground that the same negates the proportional reservation on the basis of population-based representation embodied in sub-Art. (3) being the key factor of the constitutional scheme of democracy, social and political equality together with social and political justice, which by themselves form the basic features of the Indian Constitution.
(3.)The core issue raised in the matter stands out thus to be the constitutional validity of the effort of the Parliament to provide for reservation of seats for Scheduled Tribes in the Tripura Legislative Assembly on a basis other than the proportion, which the population of the Scheduled Tribes in the State bears to the total population of the State, as would be evident from sub-Art. (3B) hereinbefore noticed. It has further been contended that the newly introduced basis is the basis of the proportion which the number of members belonging to the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly in existence on the date of commencement of the Constitution Amendment bears to the total number of seats in that Assembly as on that date. The counter-affidavit filed by respondent No. 1 (Union of India), however, renders a factual support to the submission of the petitioners which inter alia records that 17 out of 60 seats were reserved for Scheduled Tribes on the basis of their percentage in the population of the State. In addition to the 17 seats reserved for the Scheduled Tribes, three open seats were also held by the tribal members and having regard to this position, agreement was reached to the demand of reservation of 20 seats held by the Scheduled Tribes, which was, however, intended to freeze till 2000 AD. In the bye-election in June, 1991, Smt. Bibhu Devi, a Scheduled Tribe member of the Legislative Assembly holding a general seat in the Tripura Legislature was selected to the Lok Sabha and thus reducing the number of seats held by the tribals to 19 in the Assembly. This enhancement thus of two seats (from 17 to 19) has been the resultant effect for bringing about a satisfactory settlement of the problems of tribals in the State of Tripura and for restoring peace and harmony in the State. It is on record before this Court that a Memorandum of Settlement on Tripura commonly known as "TNV Accord" was signed on 12th August, 1988 by the representatives of the Central Government, State Government of Tripura and Tripura National Volunteer for bringing in a satisfactory settlement of the problems of tribals in Tripura and for restoration of peace and amity in the areas where the prevailing condition could not but be ascribed to be a disturbed one and the insertion of sub-Article (3B) in Art. 332 is in implementation of the Memorandum of Settlement as noticed above and thus for the benefit of the people of the State without offending, as has been contended by Mr. Additional Solicitor General, any of the constitutional safeguards far less in breach of the basic features to the Indian constitutional scheme.
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