School of Law, Governance and Citizenship Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD)
Invites you to a talk on Juridical Engagement with Electoral Reservations in India
By Sidharth Chauhan (Assistant Professor NALSAR, Hyderabad)
Soon after its enactment in 1950, The Indian Constitution enabled reservations for historically disadvantaged groups designated as Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in three domains of public life, namely higher education (Article 15), public employment (Article 16) and the legislative chambers (Articles 330 and 332). Since then, the ambit of reservation policies has been extended to groups designated as 'Other Backward Classes'. The insertion of Articles 243D and 243T in 1993 enabled State Governments to provide gender-based quotas in local elected bodies such as Panchayats and Municipalities. There are also some distinctive examples of electoral apportionment such as the nomination of two Lok Sabha members from the Anglo-Indian Community (Article 331), the nomination of 12 Rajya Sabha members from different professions (Article 80) and a seat reserved for a religious group in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly (Article 371F). When compared with affirmative action in the domains of higher education and public employment, electoral reservations have not attracted a similar degree of scrutiny, be it in public debate, judicial decisions or scholarly discussions.
The aim of this dissertation is to draw attention to the patterns of juridical engagement with electoral reservations in the post-independence period. It does so by concentrating on a chosen set of judicial decisions that have touched on arguments for and against the continuance of electoral reservations at different levels of government. It seeks to examine whether the decision-making in this area contributes to an analytical understanding of 'political equality', which is arguably an important organising principle for a constitutional democracy. The intention is to evaluate the quality of reason-giving in the chosen judicial decisions by invoking the different theoretical formulations about concepts such as 'equality', 'representation', 'accommodation', 'recognition', 'redistribution' and 'legitimacy'. A secondary objective is to compare India's policies on electoral reservations with other forms of apportioning political power, such as the 'delimitation' of electoral constituencies, 'functional representation' in legislatures, models for 'proportional representation' and 'Consociational' governance arrangements.
Sidharth Chauhan has been an Assistant Professor at NALSAR Hyderabad since June 2013. He holds a bachelors degree in law from NLSIU Bangalore (2008) and a masters in law from the University of Pennsylvania (2011). He has been teaching courses on Indian Constitutional Law, Political Philosophy, Comparative Public Law and the Indian Legal System.