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What a U-turn, milord! Guj judge deletes quota remark to avoid impeachment

Rathin Das | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 1:58 IST
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The withdrawal

  • Gujarat HC judge JB Pardiwala had said that reservation had destroyed progress in India
  • He has withdrawn his remarks after 58 Rajya Sabha MPs filed a notice for his impeachment

The context

  • The judge had made the remarks while hearing the sedition case against Hardik Patel
  • His views reflect a broader bias against reservation in society

More in the story

  • What exactly did the judge say?
  • Did he go against the Constitution?
  • What were the reactions to his views?
A judge of the Gujarat High Court has managed to escape his imminent impeachment by withdrawing a remark he made on the the reservation system in India.

Justice JB Pardiwala, on Friday evening, deleted the portion of his 2 December ruling in which he had blamed the reservation system for stalling the nation's progress.

The judge withdrew his remarks almost around the time that Parliamentarians in Delhi were busy preparing to move a motion for his impeachment.On Friday, 58 Rajya Sabha MPs gave a notice for the impeachment of Justice Pardiwala. Their argument is that the the judge's opinion went against the provisions of India's Constitution.

On Friday, 58 Rajya Sabha MPs gave a notice for the judge's impeachment

The remark

Justice Pardiwala made the controversial remark while hearing the sedition charges against Hardik Patel, the leader of the agitation demanding reservation for Patels.While denying any relief to Patel, Justice Pardiwala had said that the system of reservation and corruption are the two things which have destroyed the country.Here are excerpts from what Justice Pardiwala had said:

"It is very shameful for any citizen of this country to ask for reservation even after 65 years of independence."

Also read: 'Equating reservation with corruption is terrible and bizarre'

"When our Constitution was framed, it was understood that reservation would remain for a period of 10 years, but unfortunately, it has continued even after 65 years of independence."

"Today, the biggest threat for the country is corruption. Countrymen should rise and fight against corruption at all levels, rather than shedding blood and indulging in violence for reservation."

"Reservation has only played the role of an amoeboid monster sowing seeds of discord amongst the people."

Justice Pardiwala had said that reservation and corruption have destroyed the country

"The importance of merit in any society cannot be understated. Merit stands for a positive goal and when looked at instrumentally, stands for rewarding those actions that are considered good."

Also read: 58 MPs seek impeachment of Gujarat HC judge for equating reservation with corruption

"Emphasising on and rewarding merit is a means towards achieving what is regarded as good in society. The parody of the situation is that India must be the only country wherein some of the citizens crave to be called backward."

The reaction

Backward communities are naturally up in arms against the judge's observation. The judge's observation also seems to a violation of the spirit of the Constitution, from which the reservation policy stems.

Even the legal fraternity in Gujarat was not impressed with Justice Pardiwala's remarks.

Eminent human rights lawyer and former Principal of the Law College Girish Patel said that the judge should not have equated reservation with corruption.

Also read: The real reason for the Patel mess: RSS's mission to abolish reservation

Patel also said that there is no point in talking about merit as "it can be bought" by the rich while securing admission in professional courses.

"There is a tendency among judges to speak things which are not required...it was improper for the judge to talk about reservations," Patel added.

The senior advocate also pointed out that the judge's observations might have been inaccurate.

"The initial 10 years' limit Justice Pardiwala spoke of was for Parliament and state legislatures, not educational institutions," he said.

Not an isolated viewpoint

The judge might have escaped impeachment by withdrawing his observations but that doesn't hide the fact that such views are held by many in society.

And the Patidar agitation has brought the issue of reservations back int o focus. On one hand, the agitation was opposed tooth and nail by backward castes, who stood to lose out in case quotas were extended to the Patel community.

The response of the largely Upper Caste middle class, was very different. The agitation revived the resentment against the policy of reservation itself. Drawing room discussions in middle class homes in Gujarat were centered around the 'ills' of the reservation system and how it supposedly "stalled development".

It needs to be remembered that anti-reservation politics has a long history in Gujarat. The BJP owes its rise in the state to the anti-reservation agitation that was effectively turned into a communal mobilisation against minorities. The narrative throughout was fighting forces that are "harming progress".

Anti-reservation politics has a long history in Gujarat. BJP grew because of it

Also read: Patels seeking reservation shows failure of Gujarat model

First published: 19 December 2015, 9:05 IST
 
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