New Delhi, Sep 26 (UNI) Dismissing the contention of the Centre that it has done tremendous work in spreading elementary literacy in the country, the Supreme Court today held that educational development is not due to any Governmental efforts but communities' own incentives.
Solicitor General G E Vahanvati contended before the five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, that the 'Sarva Sikhsa Abhiyan' launched by the Government in 2001-2002 has benefitted children in the age group of 6 to 14 years and the Government has sanctioned 70,70,000 new posts of teachers to develop the educational infrastructure in the country.
The court, however, remarked, ''it is correct that you are spending money but the important question is whether it is reaching its destination? Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had admitted publicly that only 10 paise out of Re 1 reached its destination and 90 per cent is lost in transit.'' Mr Vahanvati responded to the allegations of anti-reservationists that the quota policy of the Government was inspired by vote bank politics as it has hardly done anything to provide elementary education to the children belonging to OBCs and until they had crossed 10 plus two stage, the provision of reservation for them in higher education was nothing more than a fraud being played on them.
The Solicitor General also contended that the Government has taken the responsibility of spreading Universal Elementary Education (UGE) programme, which is a national flagship programme to spread literacy among the children and mid-day meals were being provided along with financial assistance to the children to encourage them to go to school.
The court, however, reminded the Government of ground realities and told it that majority of Government school teachers do not go to school at all. Instead, they carry on some side business and employ assistance, paying them only one-third of the salary and keep two-third with them without doing any work.
The Solicitor General, while justifying caste based reservation of the Government, told the court that still there were restaurants and hotels which keep three sets of crockery, one for upper caste, second for Dalits and third for OBCs and there were areas where if a cook belonged to a lower caste, the upper caste people did not have that food.
Justice Arijit Pasayat, however, said it may be true in case of a village dhaba but not in case of restaurants and hotels.
The Government has already refused to accept any time-frame for the policy of caste based reservation and according to it, a tool of social engineering cannot have a time-frame. The Centre was also not prepared to accept the idea of exclusion of creamy layer from the benefits of the quota policy.
The bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat, C K Thakker, R V Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari, besides the Chief Justice, was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the Government notification issued in January this year providing 27 per cent reservation to OBC candidate in admission to centrally-run educational institutions of higher studies.
The Centre was justifying its caste based reservation policy on the grounds that unequals must be treated unequally to make them equal and the people belonging to OBCs were entitled to the benefit of compensatory and protective discrimination as they have been oppressed for centuries together only in the name of caste which has made them socially, educationally and economically backward and hence, the Government policy aimed at providing social justice to them was fully justified.
The petitioners, however, contended that such policy would divide the Indian society along caste lines and administrative efficiency would also suffer. According to them, economic backwardness should be the sole criteria for providing reservation.
According to the court, 100 per cent literacy rate attained by Kerela was also the result of the initiative taken by the people and not by the Government alone.
The arguments will continue tomorrow.