Supreme Court upholds 10% EWS reservation in education and government jobs
The Supreme Court on Monday, November 7, upheld the validity of the 103rd Constitution amendment providing 10% reservation to EWS
The Supreme Court on Monday, November 7, upheld the validity of the 103rd Constitution amendment providing 10% reservation to EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) persons in admissions and government jobs.
A five-judge bench of justices Dinesh Maheshwari, S Ravindra Bhat, Bela M Trivedi, JB Pardiwala and Chief Justice UU Lalit delivered four judgments in the matter.
Two of the judges upheld the contitutional validity of the amendment, while two others, including Chief Justice UU Lalit, passed opposingjudgments.
Ahead of delivering the judgments, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari said that the three major points considered in determining the case were whether reservation was a tool for inclusion of social and economically backward classes in the mainstream, whether it violated the basic structure of the Constitution, and whether the exclusion of classes from getting EWS violates the basic structure of the Constitution.
Justices Maheshwari, Bela Trivedi, and Pardiwala upheld the constitutional validity of the amendment, while Justice Ravindra Bhat and Chief Justice UU Lalit struck down its validity.
Observing that reservation was an instrument of affirmative action that ensures an inclusive march towards the goal of an egalitarian society, Justice Maheshwari said that it is a means of inclusion of any class or section so disadvantaged. He pronounced, "reservation on economic basis does not violate basic structure or constitution of India."
Concurring with Justice Maheshwari, Justice Bela Trivedi said that the 103rd Constitution Amendment cannot be struck down citing violation of basic structure.
Justice JB Pardiwala also concurred with the other two judges, saying that reservation cannot be allowed to become a vested interest.
However, Justice Ravindra Bhat dissented in his judgment and said that the Constitution does not permit exclusion. He stated that the amendment "undermines the fabric of social justice and thereby the basic structure".
Pointing out to the three questions based on which the decision was taken, he said that for the first question, he said that the state can introduce reservation for the economically backward and those who suffer from ill effects of poverty and thus reservation based on economic criteria is not invalid. But for the second question, excluding SC-ST, OBC, it is unconstitutional, he observed.
Stating that though economic criteria for accessing public goods is permissible but for discrimination, it is struck down as unconstitutional and 'becomes void on the ground that it is violative of the basic structure of the constitution', the judge said that he strikes down the EWS amendment.
After a marathon hearing over six-and-a-half days, the Supreme Court on September 27 reserved the verdict on the legal question of whether the EWS quota violated the basic structure of the Constitution.
The Court had heard a battery of senior lawyers, including the then Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal and Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta.
The bench, on September 8, framed three broad issues for adjudication arising from the pleas challenging the Union government's decision to grant 10% reservation to EWS in admissions and jobs.
The second legal question was whether the Constitutional Amendment breaches the basic structure by permitting the state to make special provisions concerning admissions to private unaided institutions.
The third issue is whether it breaches the basic structure of the Constitution in excluding the SEBC/OBC, SC/ST from the scope of EWS reservation.