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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

10% EWS quota for social equality: Centre

The Centre on Monday defended its move to provide 10% reservation to economically weaker sections (EWS) from the general category in jobs and educational institutions, saying it was done to provide social equality.

india Updated: Mar 11, 2019 23:54 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Image for representation
Image for representation(Photo/ Shutterstock)
         

The Centre on Monday defended its move to provide 10% reservation to economically weaker sections (EWS) from the general category in jobs and educational institutions, saying it was done to provide social equality.

In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry countered the claims that the Constitutional amendment, introducing economic criterion as the basis for reservation in January, was in violation of earlier top court’s verdicts. It said there was no breach of the 50% ceiling limit as alleged in a string of petitions filed opposing the quota. The EWS reservation has been done without disturbing the existing quotas for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Class (OBCs), the Centre said.

It argued the 50% limit the top court has fixed is only applicable to the reservation given on the basis of backwardness. The Centre said the court has distinguished between the weaker sections of the people and “backward classes of citizens.”

The affidavit gave details of various committee reports to point out that the government had the quantifiable data to back its policy. “That the Constitution Amendment [103rd] Act, 2019, was necessitated to benefit the economically weaker sections of the society, who were not covered within the existing schemes of reservation, which as per statistics, constituted a considerably large segment of the Indian population,” said the affidavit.

On the question whether economic criteria can be the sole criterion for reservation, the Centre said it can be done as it meets the Constitutional directive under Article 46 to promote the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections.

“That, as has been stated hereinabove, several Committees have been set up wherein quantifiable data has been collected highlighting the need for having the reservation for the economically weaker sections of the society. Accordingly, the Constitutional amendments were necessitated for providing opportunities in higher education and employment to those who have been excluded by virtue of their economic status,” said the affidavit.

Earlier, a bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it will in March end hear arguments to refer the petitions opposing the 10% reservation to a Constitution Bench. The court agreed to look into the question raised by the petitioners, who said the government move had breached the ceiling limit fixed by the top court with regard to the reservation.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan said the 50% limit goes to the basic structure. “At least our challenge is based on this premise,” Dhawan said, prompting the bench to fix March 28 for hearing the arguments. The court had earlier given a date in April end.

The Supreme Court had on January 25 issued a notice to the Centre in response to the petitions NGO Youth for Equality, Congress activist Tehenseen Poonwala and others have filed challenging the amendment.

First Published: Mar 11, 2019 23:54 IST

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