Quota for general poor gets court seal
- November 8, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Quota for general poor gets court seal
- A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court, by a 3-2 majority, upheld the validity of 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2019.
What were the major issues in front of the apex court:
- There were three main issues in the case:
- Whether the 103rd Constitution Amendment is violative of basic structure for providing reservation solely on the basis of economic criteria.
- Whether the amendment is violative of basic structure for excluding the poor among the SC/ST/OBC categories from EWS Quota.
- Whether the amendment is violative of the basic structure for breaching the 50% ceiling limit.
What is EWS Reservation:
- Reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of the society was granted based on the recommendations of a commission headed by Major General (retd) S R Sinho.
- The Commission was constituted by the then Union government in 2005, and submitted its report in 2010.
- The 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2019 added Clause (6) to Article 15 of the Constitution to give the government the authority to make special provisions for the EWS among citizens who are not already eligible for reservation.
- It was enacted to promote the welfare of the poor not covered by the 50% reservation policy for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
- The Act allows up to 10 per cent reservation in public and private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided, with the exception of minority-run institutions.
- The Act also added Clause (6) to Article 16 of the Constitution to make employment reservations easier.
- Article 16 of the Indian Constitution guarantees equal opportunity to all citizens in matters related to employment in the public sector.
What is the eligibility criteria for EWS reservation:
- Candidate’s annual family income must be less than Rs. 8 lakhs per annum,
- Their family must not own more than 5 acres of agriculture land,
- The residential flat area should be below 1000 sq. ft.,
- The residential plot’s area should be below 100 square yards if in a notified municipality sector,
- The residential plot’s area should be below 200 square yards if in a non-notified municipality sector.
What is Supreme court judgement:
- By a majority of 3:2, a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court has upheld the validity of the 103rd Constitution Amendment.
- The amendment was challenged, based on the argument that the 103rd amendment violated the “basic structure” of the Constitution.
- Three judges, Justices Dinesh Maheshwari, Bela Trivedi, and S B Pardiwala, have upheld the validity of the 103rd amendment.
- Justice Dinesh Maheshwari has ruled that reservation based only on economic criteria does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution. He also added that the exclusion of classes covered in Article 15(4) and 16(4) that is OBCs and SC/STs in the 103rd amendment does not damage the basic structure.
- Justice Bela Trivedi ruled that treating EWS as a separate class would be a reasonable classification, and that treating unequal equally would violate the principle of equality under the Constitution.75 years after independence, it was time to revisit the system of reservation in the larger interest of society.
- Justice S B Pardiwala observed that “Reservation is not an end, it is means, it should not be allowed to become a vested interest”.
- The dissenting judgement has come from Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Chief Justice of India U U Lalit.
- Justice Bhat has ruled that while reservation on economic criteria is per se not violative of the Constitution,excluding SC/ST/OBC from the purview of EWS is violative of basic structure andhas struck down Articles 15(6) and 16(6) for being discriminatory and violative of the equality code.
- CJI U U Lalit said he concurs entirely with the judgment of Justice Bhat.