Reservation and the Constitution

The Constitution provides certain special provisions to the SCs and STs to protect their educational and economic interest. These provisions are known as ‘protective discrimination policy’. They are related to:

  • Political reservations (Articles 330 and 332) ;
  • Reservation of seats in educational institutions (Articles 15(4), 29, 46) ; and
  • Reservation of government jobs (Articles 16(4), 320(4), 333 and 335). The Constitution provides equality before the law and positive legal measures against disabilities based on birth; (Articles 15(2) ; 29(2), 35, 244, and 371(a)).

By the various acts of parliament, the provisions received legal status. According to Article 330, reservation of seats for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, except the scheduled tribes of the tribal areas of Assam and scheduled tribes of the autonomous districts of Assam is provided in the Lok Sabha.

Key Purposes

  1. The major reason for the inclusion of the reservation system in the Indian Constitution is that the framers of the Constitution pertinently considered that the SCs and the STs were historically oppressed and denied respect and equal opportunity in the Indian society, due to the deeply rooted caste system, and hence, this was the cause of their under-representation in the nation-building activities and to uplift, such groups of people, Article 15 and 16 was put into the Constitution.[1]
  2. Representation of the backward communities in the Indian politics and the mainstream would have been a society and for that reason, provisions were made Under Article 15 and Article 16 of the Indian Constitution, so as to allow the policy of reservation for them. Equality is treating everyone equally – there will be justice only when all sects of people are adequately represented and that is how Democracy works. The people belonging to Backward Communities were large in number and the nation cannot reflect the will of people unless all the sections of India are represented, involved in legislature and laws made taking into account the inequality prevailing amongst our own people.
  3. The social structure in the Indian subcontinent commonly known as the caste system has roots that can be traced back thousands of years.[2] The broad superstructure of traditional Hindu social ordering is the varna system. When they conquered the indigenous Dasa peoples, the Aryan people already had a social structure containing three hierarchical social groups; the Brahmins (priests), Kshatriyas (warriors and aristocrats), and Vaisyas (merchants and others). At some point after the conquest, the fourth varna, the Shudras (peasants, laborers, and servants) emerged.[3] Absent from the classification were the groups who later came to be known as Dalits (untouchables), who were entirely excluded from the varna system and consequently excluded from much of Indian village life. Hence, from the very roots of its origins, the Indian society has been discriminating against a certain sect of people based on birth and ill-treated them to be of “lowly-birth”. This created the necessity for reservation in the Indian society and culture to save these victimized communities from further oppression. One another object was to promote their development and education.
  4. Adequate representation of any backward class of citizens OR economically weaker sections (EWS) in the services under the State. Article 16 (4) and Article 16 (6). [4]


[1] Nitesh Mishra, An Analysis of Reservation in India available at

[2] G.S. Ghurye, Caste and Race in India (1968).

[3] Deepak Lal, The Hindu Equilibrium, vol. 1, Cultural Stability and Economic Stagnation, Oxford: Clarendon, (1988)

[4] last accessed on January 06, 2021.

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