What is Horizontal Reservation, why it is important in India?

Ground Report | New Delhi: What is Horizontal Reservation; The basic objective of the reservation is to provide fair representation to the reserved category. This objective is derived from the premise that in the first place there would be no reservation if each category were equally or adequately represented.

Bihar government recently announced 33% horizontal reservation for women in engineering and medical colleges of the state. While reservations for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Other Backward Classes (OBC), and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) are referred to as vertical reservations.

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What is Horizontal Reservation

Briefly stated that ‘reservation’ is a form of affirmative action through which non-represented sections are provided representation in employment and education by the state.

The term ‘horizontal reservation’ is not defined in any statute and is a creature of judicial expression. There are many case laws that have explained the principle of horizontal reservation.

  • Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes is known as vertical reservation.
  • This applies separately to each group specified under the law.
  • Horizontal reservation is meant to provide equal opportunities to other categories of beneficiaries such as women, elderly, transgender community and persons with disabilities, which cut across vertical categories.

Horizontal reservation is in reference to Article 16(1) of the Constitution of India which provides that “there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.”

Its roots can also be traced to Article 41 of the Constitution which provides that “the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, education and public assistance in cases of unemployment”, in case of undesired necessity of old age, disease and disablement, and in other cases.”

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Why it is important in India

We live in 21st century India and the caste system is history for most of us. And since this is history, it should not be found anymore. The benefits of the horizontal reservation may give the impression that the application of a horizontal reservation system can lead to a system that will rarely require a review of reservation percentages.

Horizontal reservation adjusts reservation according to representation, but the adjustment is within a fixed reserve percentage limit as decided by the legislature

Horizontal reservation reduces the pre-determined reservation percentage from the percentage of reserved category representation already achieved through merit. Hence, horizontal reservation adjusts the reservation every year according to the performance of the reserved category students.

The Women’s Reservation Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1996 and that bill is yet to become a law. In 2010, this bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha but the struggle is still going on to get this bill passed in the Lok Sabha. If we look at the arguments against this bill, we come to know that the arguments given are the result of the fears of patriarchy. After decrypting every discourse that is against the bill, the only picture that emerges is a hollow sense of the power of the patriarchy.

  • If you still go to a remote village in India and ask women about their condition and discrimination, you will not hear anything positive from them.
  • One of the key factors for the low FLFP rate is the lack of employment opportunities for women after matriculation and graduation.

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