Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad leading the protest from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar against the SC order on February 16. (PTI)
Bharat Bandh today, 23rd February 2020: Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad has called for a Bharat Bandh on Sunday, February 23, against the Supreme Court's ruling on the reservation in appointments and promotions in public posts.
Opposition parties in Bihar, led by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), have lent their support to the bandh. In a statement on Friday, RJD said it supports the bandh's purpose which is to protect reservation and the Constitution. Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awami Morcha, and Pappu Yadav's Jan Adhikar Party are also supporting the bandh call.
Several student outfits, including Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samitti (CYSS), and activists have also lent their support to the bandh.
In its order on February 9, the apex court ruled that states were not bound to provide reservation in appointments and promotions and that there was no fundamental right to reservation in promotions. The top court was hearing a group of appeals pertaining to reservations to SCs and STs in promotions in the posts of Assistant Engineer (Civil) in PWD, Uttarakhand.
A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta, which referred to earlier decisions of the court in this regard, said last week, “… Article 16 (4) and 16 (4-A) are in the nature of enabling provisions, vesting a discretion on the state government to consider providing reservation, if the circumstances so warrant. It is a settled law that the state government cannot be directed to provide reservation for appointment in public posts. Similarly, the state is not bound to make reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in matters of promotions.”
“However, if they (state) wish to exercise their discretion and make such provision, the state has to collect quantifiable data showing inadequacy of representation…” the bench said.
A day after the SC ruling, Chandrashekhar Azad sought a review of the order and called for a nationwide bandh on February 23.
“I want to appeal to all the friends of Bahujan Samaj that you have seen the mentality of the government. Now, we are going to organise a march on February 16 from Mandi House to the Parliament House. We have called for a Bharat Bandh on February 23 because the Constitution is being attacked. Be it reservation, be it citizenship or employment; we have to work on these issues. We should protest peacefully and convey our message to the government as well as the Supreme Court,” Azad had said.
He had also urged the Centre to bring an ordinance to nullify the ruling.
Opposition parties had expressed concern with the apex court's ruling and had asked the Centre to clarify its stand. The Congress had accused the ruling BJP of impinging on the rights of SCs and STs, adding that the Centre should take steps or approach the Supreme Court to seek a review.
The CPI(M) had asked the Centre to “rectify the lacuna leading to such an interpretation through legislative resolutions in both Houses of parliament and set right this lacuna in the Constitution forthwith”.
In reply, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawarchand Gehlot had told Parliament that the Centre was not party in the SC, adding that the top court order pertained to a decision of the Uttarakhand government taken in 2012 when the Congress was in power in the state.