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EWS quota problem referred to Constitution Bench

  • Category
    Polity
  • Published
    13th Aug, 2020

The Supreme Court referred to a five-judge Bench the “substantial question of law” whether or not grant of 10% reservation to economically weaker sections of the society is ‘unconstitutional’ and violates the 50% ceiling cap on quota declared by the courtroom itself.

Context

The Supreme Court referred to a five-judge Bench the “substantial question of law” whether or not grant of 10% reservation to economically weaker sections of the society is ‘unconstitutional’ and violates the 50% ceiling cap on quota declared by the courtroom itself.

About

  The EWS Quota

  • It provides for 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for EWS, by amending Articles 15 and 16 that deal with the fundamental right to equality.
  • While Article 15 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, Article 16 guarantees equal opportunity in matters of public employment.
  • An additional clause was added to both provisions, giving Parliament the power to make special laws for EWS like it does for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Castes.
  •  The states are to notify who constitute EWS to be eligible for reservation.
  • Key–Highlights of the development
  • A 3-judge Bench led by Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde mentioned the first query for the Constitution Bench to determine is whether or not “economic backwardness” might be the only criterion for granting quota in authorities jobs and academic establishments for individuals who would in any other case should compete within the basic class.
  • The three-judge Bench had refused to remain the implementation of the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act, which offers the 10% quota, when it had reserved for orders a year in the past.
  • Several petitioners had challenged the validity of the Constitutional Amendment, saying the 50% quota restrict was a part of the Basic Structure of the Constitution.
  • The financial reservation was launched within the Constitution by amending Articles 15 and 16 and including clauses empowering the State governments to supply reservation on the premise of financial backwardness.

What’s the need to refer to a larger bench?

  • A reference to a larger Bench means that the legal challenge is an important one.
  • As per Article 145(3) of the Constitution,the minimum number of Judges who are to sit for the purpose of deciding any case involving a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution” shall be five.
  • The Supreme Court rules of 2013 also say that writ petitions that allege a violation of fundamental rights will generally be heard by a bench of two judges unless it raises substantial questions of law. In that case, a five-judge bench would hear the case.
  • Laws made by Parliament are presumed to be constitutional until proven otherwise in court. The SC had refused to stay the 103rd Amendment.
  • A reference will make no difference to the operation of the EWS quota.

Why is the quota challenged?

  • The law was challenged primarily on two grounds.
    • Violating the Basic Structure of the Constitution: This argument stems from the view that the special protections guaranteed to socially disadvantaged groups is part of the Basic Structure and that the 103rd Amendment departs from this by promising special protections on the sole basis of economic status.
    • Violating the fundamental right to practise a trade/profession: Another challenge has been made on behalf of private, unaided educational institutions. They have argued that their fundamental right to practise a trade/profession is violated when the state compels them to implement its reservation policy and admit students on any criteria other than merit.
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