SC Upholds 10% EWS Quota in Admissions, Jobs
Moneylife Digital Team/ IANS 07 November 2022

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the validity of the 103rd Constitution amendment providing 10% reservation to economically weaker sections (EWS) in admissions and government jobs. Three out of five judges, who heard the petitions challenging the EWS reservation, upheld the EWS quota.

The judgement was pronounced by a five-judge bench headed by chief justice UU Lalit and also comprising justice Dinesh Maheshwari, justice S Ravindra Bhat, justice Bela M Trivedi and justice JB Pardiwala.

Justice Maheshwari in the judgement said the EWS quota law did not violate the basic structure or equality code for taking into account the economic criterion. He said the EWS reservation does not cause damage to any essential feature of the Constitution by exceeding the 50% ceiling for quota since the ceiling is itself flexible.

Justice Trivedi said she concurred with the judgement passed by justice Maheshwari. She says the EWS quota is valid. Justice Pardiwala also ruled in favour of the EWS quota.

However, chief justice Lalit and justice Bhat dissented with the other three judges on the bench. Justice Bhat ruled that the Constitution does not permit exclusion and this amendment undermines the fabric of social justice and thereby the basic structure.

Justice Trivedi says the age-old caste system in India was responsible for the origination of the reservation system in the country and it was introduced to correct the historical injustice faced by the persons belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and other backward classes, and to provide them a level playing field to compete with the persons belonging to the forward classes.

"However, at the end of seventy-five years of our independence, we need to revisit the system of reservation in the larger interest of the society as a whole, as a step forward towards transformative constitutionalism," she said in her separate judgement.

Justice Pardiwala said reservation is not an end but a means—a means to secure social and economic justice. He added that reservation should not be allowed to become a vested interest and real solution, however, lies in eliminating the causes that have led to the social, educational and economic backwardness of the weaker sections of the community.

"This exercise of eliminating the causes started immediately after the Independence i.e., almost seven decades back and it still continues... As larger percentages of backward class members attain acceptable standards of education and employment, they should be removed from the backward categories so that the attention can be paid toward those classes which genuinely need help," he said in his separate judgement.

Chief justice Lalit and Justice Bhat said the law was discriminatory and violative of the basic structure of the Construction.

The Supreme Court pronounced its judgement on a clutch of petitions challenging the validity of the 103rd Constitution amendment providing 10% reservation to EWS persons in admissions and government jobs.

On 27 September 2022, the apex court has reserved its judgement on the EWS quota. Opposing the EWS quota amendment, academician Mohan Gopal, one of the petitioners, had said that the amendment is 'deceitful and a backdoor attempt' to destroy the concept of reservation.

The Union government defended the 103rd amendment, saying the reservation provided under it was different and the EWS quota does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution. It has been given without disturbing the 50% quota meant for the socially and economically backward classes (SEBC), the government contended.

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