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Supreme Court's EWS Reservation Decision: Key Issues



  Oct 05, 2023

Bihar Caste Survey


Janhit Abhiyan vs. Union of India 2022

10% EWS Quota: Key Issues
 
Summary: The Supreme Court's recent decision to uphold the 10% reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) of the general category has raised several crucial legal and constitutional questions. The judgment, passed by a 3:2 majority, addressed various issues, including the breach of the 50% reservation ceiling, exclusion of SC/ST/OBCs from EWS provisions, and the reservation extended to private schools. Here is a summary of the key issues and the Court's positions:
 
Reservation Based on Economic Criteria: All judges unanimously agreed that there is no constitutional barrier to reservations based on economic criteria. They emphasized that such reservations are a tool for affirmative action and do not violate the Constitution's core principles.
 
Exclusion of SC/ST/OBCs from EWS Reservation: The sole point of dissent was the exclusion of socially disadvantaged groups (SC/ST/OBCs) from EWS provisions. Justices Lalit and Bhat argued that this exclusion amounted to discrimination, while the majority held that it did not violate the Equality Code.
 
Reservation in Private Schools: The Court ruled that Article 15(6), which provides for EWS reservation in private unaided educational institutions, is constitutionally valid. This decision affirms the government's authority to extend reservations to the private sector.
 
Call for Reservation Reforms: The dissenting judges and some majority opinions called for reforms in the reservation system. They emphasized the need to periodically review and update the criteria for backwardness and to consider ending reservations for groups that have achieved socioeconomic progress.
 
50% Reservation Ceiling: The Court unanimously agreed that the 50% quota limit imposed by the Indira Sawhney judgment is not an absolute figure. It can be exceeded if the Parliament deems it necessary for further affirmative action.
 
In conclusion, the Supreme Court's decision on the EWS quota has significant implications for India's reservation policy. While it reaffirms the constitutionality of economic criteria-based reservations, it also highlights the need for ongoing reforms and considerations of inclusivity within the reservation system.
 

Bihar Caste Survey 2023

The data from the Bihar caste-based survey, revealing that the Other Backward Classes and Extremely Backward Classes constitute a significant 63% of the state's population, adds weight to the argument for further reservations. This data demonstrates that there is a substantial population seeking social and economic upliftment through reservation policies.
 
In the Supreme Court's majority judgment on the EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) quota case, a 3:2 majority held that the EWS quota did not breach the 50% ceiling limit on reservations established by the Indra Sawhney judgment in 1992. It emphasized that the 50% ceiling, while important, was not inflexible and could be adjusted to accommodate further reservations through affirmative action without undermining the basic structure of the Constitution.


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