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EWS reservation is against the basic structure of the constitution, why is there a debate in the Supreme Court?


Sep 15, 2022

The Supreme Court has started hearing in the matter of 10% reservation in jobs and admission to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS). It is being debated before the Constitution Bench of the Court whether EWS reservation violates the basic structure of the Constitution. The five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court started this hearing from Tuesday.

The debate is on whether the 103rd Amendment Act violates the basic structure of the Constitution or not? Through this amendment, 10 percent reservation was made for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in government jobs and admission. What is the 103rd amendment of the constitution? What is the argument of those opposing reservation? Who has filed the petition? What happened in the first day’s proceedings in the court? How many people have benefited from EWS reservation so far?


What is the 103rd amendment of the constitution?

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In January 2019, the notification of EWS reservation was released in the country. The Department of Personnel and Training issued this notification on the basis of the 103rd Amendment of the Constitution. Through this, reservation was given in jobs and admission in educational institutions. Its benefit is given to those people who do not get the benefit of SC, ST or OBC reservation and the gross annual income of their family is less than eight lakhs. However, along with this there were some conditions regarding reservation.

Which judges are included in the Constitution Bench and on what basis is it hearing?

The five-judge constitution bench comprises Chief Justice UU Lalit, Justice S Ravindra Bhat, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, Justice SB Pardiwala and Justice Bela Trivedi. This Constitution Bench had decided only last week that to examine whether the constitutional amendment has validity or not, it will decide on three main grounds.


1:-Is this constitutional amendment allowing reservation on economic grounds a violation of the basic structure of the constitution?

2:-Has the basic structure of the Constitution been violated by keeping socially and economically backward people from OBC, SC and ST categories out of the EWS quota?

3:-With this law, the state governments have been empowered to fix the EWS quota for admission in private institutions, is it against the basic structure of the constitution or not?

Why is this hearing taking place?

Several petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court against the EWS quota. A five-judge Constitutional Bench was constituted to hear them. This bench had started hearing on it from Tuesday. The most prominent name opposing the EWS quota is the ruling party DMK in Tamil Nadu.

DMK says that the basis of reservation in jobs and educational institutions cannot be economic. DMK argues that reservation is given to reduce the social backwardness of the people. This reservation is for those who have been socially oppressed. Reservation on the basis of economic status is a kind of joke.

What happened in the court hearing so far?

n the first day’s hearing, the petitioners told the Supreme Court that the Center’s grant of 10 per cent reservation to the EWS category is in many ways a violation of the basic structure of the Constitution. This amendment also violates the 50 percent limit of reservation.

Renowned educationist Professor Dr. Mohan Gopal presented his arguments in the Supreme Court. “The 103rd Amendment of the Constitution is an attack on the Constitution. This quota has reversed the concept of reservation as a means of representation of disadvantaged groups. This amendment has turned it into a scheme for financial upliftment.

He said the benefit of EWS quota is limited only to the ‘next classes’, it violates the principles of equality and social justice and is violative of the basic structure of the Constitution. This reservation is an attempt to destroy the concept of reservation.

Advocate Meenakshi Arora told the court, ‘The system of reservation was introduced to bring the historically unjust classes into the mainstream. It cannot be given only on economic grounds. Advocate Sanjay Parikh said that keeping the poor from the backward, Dalit and tribal communities out of the EWS quota is a violation of the right to equality given in the Constitution.

Along with this, the issue of economic basis was also raised in the court. Dr Gopal said, “The limit to get the benefit of EWS quota is up to Rs 8 lakh per annum. That is, those families will also get its benefit whose monthly income is about 66 thousand rupees per month. 96 percent of the households in the country have a monthly income of 25 thousand or less. It seems that the circle of beneficiaries from this is huge.

What is the stand of the central government in this whole matter?

Arguments are yet to be given by the government in the court. However, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has given its affidavit. In this, the ministry has said that under Article 46 of the Constitution, it is the responsibility of the government to protect the interests of the economically weaker sections.



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