Will stick to ₹8 lakh income limit for EWS quota, Centre tells Supreme Court
The Centre’s affidavit on sticking to the annual income limit of ₹8 lakh for EWS quota comes weeks after the Supreme Court wondered whether the income criteria of ₹8 lakh could be uniformly applied across the country
NEW DELHI: The Centre has decided to continue with the existing annual income limit of ₹8 lakh for identification of economically weaker section (EWS) following the recommendation by a committee set up to revisit this criterion after the Supreme Court raised doubts over the 10% quota rollout while dealing with NEET-PG admissions.
In an affidavit filed late Saturday night, the Centre annexed a copy of the committee’s report and said, “The central government has decided to accept the recommendations of the committee including the recommendation of applying the new criteria prospectively.”
The three-member committee comprising former union finance secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, member secretary ICSSR VK Malhotra, and principal economic advisor Sanjeev Sanyal, in its report submitted to Centre on December 31 said, “The committee has come to the conclusion that the existing annual income criteria of ₹8 lakh is not over-inclusive.”
The income criterion for identifying EWS was introduced by a notification of January 17, 2019 which further laid down other conditions for identifying EWS, such as the beneficiary’s family must not own or possess five acres of agricultural land, a residential flat of 1,000 square feet and above or residential plot of 100/200 square yards and above in notified/non-notified municipalities.
The committee altogether omitted the residential asset criteria but retained the five acre agricultural plot criteria. It said, “The committee is of the view that on merit as well as for ease, convenience, and simplicity, the residential asset area criteria should altogether be omitted as it does not reflect true economic conditions and also poses serious complications and burden on EWS families without commensurate benefits.”
However, with regard to agricultural asset, it maintained, “Removal of agricultural land limit criteria could result into anomalous situation of big land owners being included in EWS.”
The committee’s recommendations will be applicable from the next admission cycle as it was of the view that the existing and ongoing criteria in every on-going process where EWS reservation is available should be continued.
The committee was formed on November 30 after the top court, while considering a bunch of petitions questioning the introduction of 10% EWS and 27% OBC quota in NEET-PG admissions in 2020-21 academic session, wondered whether the income criteria of ₹8 lakh could be uniformly applied across the country. Also, it was pointed out that this was the same cutoff for identification of creamy layer or socially advanced persons among OBCs.
The affidavit filed by ministry of social justice and empowerment has come ahead of the hearing of NEET-PG petitions on January 6.