Validity of Reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS)

Validity of Reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS)

Recently the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).

  • The Supreme Court has upheld the validity of the 103rd Constitutional Amendment by majority of 3:2.
  • By this amendment 10% reservation has been given to EWS in the general population in education and government jobs.
  • Articles 15(6) and 16(6) were added to the constitution through this amendment. This amendment was challenged on the ground that it violates the basic structure of the Constitution.
  • The Supreme Court had given the principle of basic structure in the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973). Under this, the court had ruled that some aspects of the constitution cannot be violated, and they cannot be changed either.

This decision will help address several key issues:

Key Issues-

  • Can reservation be given only on the basis of economic criteria?
  • Is it discriminatory to keep SC/ST/SEBC/OBC out of this reservation?
  • Can reservation for EWS violate the 50% limit of quota?
  • Can private colleges be forced to give EWS reservation?

Solutions in the decision –

  • Reservation based only on economic criteria does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.
  • It would be appropriate to consider EWS as a separate category. Further, treating unequals equally would be violative of the principle of equality under the Constitution.
  • The 50% limit is for backward classes. It has been extended to give reservation to a completely different class. EWS are also included in this category.
  • Reservations as a concept cannot be ruled out in private institutions where education is imparted.

Economically Weaker Section Reservation

It has been implemented on the recommendations of the SR Sinha Commission (2010). It has been introduced under the 103rd Constitutional Amendment (2019).

Economically Backward Classes (EWS)

  • Unreserved category people whose annual income is less than Rs.8 lakh.
  • Also whose property ownership of agricultural land is less than 5 acres; Residential land should be less than 200 sqm.

Constitutional Provisions of Reservation in India:

  • Government Educational Institutions: Articles 15(4), (5), and (6)
  • Government Jobs : Article 16(4) and (6)
  • Legislature (State/Union): Article 334
  • OBC Reservation: Presented in Mandal Commission Report (1991). The concept of creamy layer is present only in OBC reservation (not SC/SC).
  • Determination of caste based reservation limit: 50% (in Indira Sawhney case 1992)
  • The first major decision of the Supreme Court on reservation: Champakam Dorairajan case, 1951

Source – The Hindu

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