In the Supreme Court of India
|NAME OF THE CASE||The state of Madras vs. Srimathi Champakam|
|CITATION||AIR 1951 SC 226|
|APPELANT||The state of Madras|
|RESPONDENT||Srimathi Champakam and Others|
|DATE OF CASE||9 April 1951|
|BENCH/ JUDGE||Hiralal J. Kania, Saiyid Fazal Ali, Vivian Bose, M.Patanjali Sastri, Mehr Chand Mahajan, B.K. Mukherjea|
|STATUES/CONSTITUTION INVOLVED||Constitution of India|
|IMPORTANT SECTIONS / ARTICLES||Article 13, Article 15(1), Article 29(2), Article 37, Article 46, Article 226|
In the present case, an appeal was filed by the state of Madras challenging the order of Madras high court in Supreme Court in which the former discarded the communal government order claiming it to be against the constitution and completely caste based. In the high court 2 petitions were filed by Srimathi Champakam and C.R. Srinivasan, on not getting the admission into the medical and engineering college even though scoring more than enough marks and due to reservation of seats. They alleged that their fundamental rights were violated and also issued a writ of mandamus. The Supreme Court also upheld the decision of the high court and declared the government order to be void. It was the first judgment that amended the constitution and it is used to resolve the conflict between part III and part IV of the constitution.
Part III and part IV are very important parts of the constitution, fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy. Fundamental rights are a group of rights that are enforceable and are enshrined in the constitution. There are 6 rights under article 12- 35 and are inviolable.
- Right to equality
- Right to freedom
- Right against exploitation
- Right to freedom of religion
- Cultural and educational rights
- Rights to constitutional remedies/
The last fundamental right is the most important one as it ensures the proper functioning of all other fundamental rights. On the violation of these rights a citizen can directly move to the Supreme Court who can issue writs. It is also called the heart and soul of the constitution.
Fundamental rights can be amended by parliament but shouldn’t alter the basic structure of the constitution.
Directive principles on the other hand are provided under article 36-51 and make it duty of the state to apply these principles to establish a society with peace and are not enforceable by law and had been inspired from directive principles of state policy of Ireland.
In the present case, there was a conflict seen in between fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy and the provisions of rights prevailed and also directive principles were regarded as subsidiary to rights.
Directive principles were called a novel feature of the constitution by Dr. B.R Ambedkar and they can be amended.
There are of three types:
- Liberal intellectual
Also the main difference is fundamental rights are justifiable whereas the directive principles are not.
Also, in this case the first petition comes from reservation in seats of medical and engineering college of Madras by the communal government order so reservation is that system which provides representation to sections which are economically weaker or less represented etc.
FACTS OF THE CASE
In this case, an appeal was filed in the Supreme Court against the judgment of the high court in which it rejected a government order relating to completely caste based reservation in various college admission sets. Basically the state of Madras had 4 medical colleges which have just 330 seats, out of which 17 were reserved for students who come to study from outside the state and 12 for discretionary allotment and other seats were divided between four distinct groups. And the same thing in only present four engineering colleges, 395 were the total seats, 21 reserved for students who come to study from outside the state and 12 for discretionary allotment and other seats were divided between four distinct groups.
The reservation was based on the order known as communal government order issued by Madras presidency in 1927.
Division of seats-
- Non Brahmin Hindus- 6
- Backward hindus-2
- Brahmins- 2
- Harijans- 2
- Anglo Indians and Indian Christians – 1
And selection from all applications was based on principles of academic qualification and marks obtained and in medical colleges 20% seats were also reserved for women. Even after the commencement of the constitution 26 January, 1950 the concept of reservation in government order communal prevailed.
An application was filed in Madras high court on June 7, by Srimathi Champakam under article 226 claiming to have suffered from infringement of her fundamental right. She alleged that even after scoring more than enough marks she was denied admission in college and requested for the writ of mandamus or any other suitable writ to be issued to restrict the state from enforcing the government order.
From the affidavit it turned out that actually she didn’t apply for admission and on inquiring she came to know that she would be denied admission for the reason she belonged to the Brahmin community. No objection was raised on the account of maintainability of petition and on the contrary the state decided to reserve a seat for her and then it was not necessary to pursue the matter any further but to not set a wrong example of approving the person who actually had not applied for admission and appealed o infringement of fundamental rights so the application of Srimathi Champakam was allowed.
Another petition was filed by Sri Srinivasan who actually applied for admission into a government engineering college. He was denied admission in college and requested for the writ of mandamus or any other suitable writ to be issued to restrict the state from enforcing the government order. The petitioner in the affidavit claimed that he had passed the intermediate examination with first division held on March 1, 1950. He scored 369 marks out of 450 and hence his application was also allowed.
After hearing the learned council of both sides the high court decided that both the appellants must be given admission in college solely based on their merit and not because of their caste, religion or community and also out of fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy, , directive principles cannot override fundamental rights
The state of Madras then filed an appeal against the judgment of Madras high court only to be dismissed by the honorable Supreme Court.
ISSUES RAISED BY COURT
- Whether the Government Communal Order of 1927 which reserved seats in educational institutions was against the constitution or not and infringe the fundamental rights?
- Out of fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy, which one is superior and prevails over another?
ARGUMENT FROM THE APPELLANT SIDE
- The learned council on behalf of the state argued that the state of Madras argued that article 46 of constitution charges states with promoting educational interests of weaker sections to protect them from social injustice. Although the article is under directive principle of state policy and is not enforceable by court, these articles are fundamental for governance of the country.
- The learned council on the behalf of the state argued that according to article 37 the state is obliged to follow these principles.
- The learned council on behalf of the state argued that the communal order is valid in law and not at all the violation of Indian constitution and no infringement of fundamental rights had occurred and the provisions of article 46 overrides the provisions of article 29.
- The learned council on behalf of the state argued that the admission was not denied not only because the petitioners were Brahmin but also as the Brahmins were allotted only two seats and they were already filled by those students who scored more and their admission was not solely denied on the basis of their caste.
ARGUMENT FROM THE RESPONDENT SIDE
- The learned council on the behalf of respondent Srimathi Champakam argued that as per the article 29 “cultural and educational rights” is divided into two clauses and according to it if any citizen is in spite of needed academic qualification is denied admission on the basis of caste, race, and religion then that’s a clear breach of fundamental right.
- The learned council on behalf of respondent Srinivasan argued that he scored a much better score than the non Brahmin students and he was not given the admission apparently just for the reason he was Brahmin and not a member of other castes, that clearly shows the admission was based on caste.
- The learned council on behalf of respondent argued that article 16 in the Indian constitution provides right to equality in terms of public employment and no one should be discriminated against.
- The learned council on the behalf of respondent argued that if arguments on article 46 are sound then article 16, clause 4 would have been unnecessary and this points out that the intention of constitution was not to introduce all communal considerations in matters of admission. The protection of backward sections and classes may require appointment of members of those classes and that’s why the state has been provided the power of reservation but that consideration is not necessary in case of admission in educational institutions.
- ARTICLE 15 (1) – the state shall not discriminate any citizen on any basis whether on grounds of religion, gender, caste, community etc.
- ARTICLE 29 (2) – no citizen shall be denied admission into educational institutions maintained by the state on the basis of religion, caste, gender, language etc.
- ARTICLE 226 – this article gives the high court the power to issue 5 writs, habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, certiorari and prohibitions for the enforcements of rights under part third of constitution.
- ARTICLE 37 – the principles under this are not enforceable by court but are fundamental in governance of the country and it comes under state of duty to apply these principles.
- ARTICLE 46 – the state shall promote the educational and economic interest of weaker sections of society and shall protect them from social injustice and other forms of exploitation.
- ARTICLE 32 – the right to move to Supreme Court on violation of any right under part third of constitution and the power of Supreme court to issue writs 
- ARTICLE 13 – All laws in force in the territory of India immediately before the commencement of this Constitution, in so far as they are inconsistent with the provisions of this Part, shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void.
In this case, the judgment of Madras high court was upheld by the Supreme Court and the communal government order was declared void. The classification in the order was on the basis of race, religion and caste and hence it is with opposition to the constitution and constitutes a clear violation of fundamental rights provided to citizens.
Also the order was inconsistent with provisions of article 29 in part third of the constitution and was held void under article 13 so on all these bases, appeals of the state of Madras were dismissed.
The court further said that article 46 cannot override the provisions of article 29 and also declared that the part four of Indian constitution, directive principles of state policy, is enforceable by Indian constitution and cannot override the rights present under part third of Indian constitution, that consists of fundamental rights which are one of the most vital part of constitution.
The intention of the constitution was also not to introduce communal considerations in matters of admission into educational institutions. The Supreme Court also clarified that both Srimathi champakam and Srinivasan should be admitted in college on the basis of merit and hence the appeals were dismissed.
One of the landmark judgments in Indian history, first amendment was made in Indian constitution to any provision related to reservation.this case deals with one of the most sensitive issues that is about admission in college on the basis of merit. The directive principles of state policy are provided for the betterment of society and it’s the duty of the state to apply those provisions but these provisions should not override the fundamental rights and are enforceable by law. Also via this case we came to understand that there is a huge difference between pre and post constitutional era and some provisions should be changed. I personally stand by the decision of the Supreme Court as the admission in colleges and educational institutions must be based on academic qualifications and merits rather than on communal basis.
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