EWS Quota

[vc_section][vc_row][vc_column width=\”1/2\”][vc_column_text]What is the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) Quota?

The 10% EWS quota was introduced under the 103rd Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2019 by amending Articles 15 and 16.

It inserted Article 15 (6) and Article 16 (6). It is for economic reservation in jobs and admissions in educational institutes for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).

It was enacted to promote the welfare of the poor not covered by the 50% reservation policy for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC).  It enables both the Centre and the States to provide reservations to the EWS of society.

Salient features of the 103rd amendment act:

103rd amendment act provides for reservation of jobs in central government jobs as well as government educational institutions. It is also applicable on admissions to private higher educational institutions.

It applies to citizens belonging to the economically weaker sections of any sect of society.

This reservation is “in addition to the existing reservations and subject to a maximum of 10% of the total seats in each category”.

It mandates Article 46 of the Constitution of India, a Directive Principle that urges the government to protect the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of society.

Amended articles of the constitution by the 103rd amendment

Article 15 (6) is added to provide reservations to economically weaker sections for admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of Article 30. The amendment aims to provide reservation to those who do not fall in 15 (5) and 15(4) (effectively, SCs, STs and OBCs).

Article 16 (6) is added to provide reservations to people from economically weaker sections in government posts. An explanation states that “economic weakness” shall be decided on the basis of “family income” and other “indicators of economic disadvantage.”

Arguments that are against the Act:

  1. Lack of discussion and academic inputs: The Bill was not circulated before being introduced in the parliament. It was also not examined by any committee. There was hardly any time between its introduction and final discussion.
  2. Difficult to accommodate new reservation: It will be difficult to increase the number of seats for many institutions to accommodate new reservation. Even many government institutes lack adequate infrastructure and resources. Act will put extra burden on them.
  3. Mediocrity: It will lead to mediocrity. Admission of poor quality students under the quota may impact the system of education.
  4. Violates basic structure: It is argued that the amendment, where reservation is provided on individual economic status, violates the Constitution’s basic structure.
  5. Against equality: The amendment is against the idea of equal opportunity. It favours a few and provide them special privileges discriminating others.

Arguments in favour of the act:

  1. Not for certain sects: The reservation mooted is for all economically weaker individuals. Thus idea of religion and caste is not used in reservation which had been the case till now as the new law of 10% quota in government jobs and education for economically weaker sections is irrespective of religion and caste.
  2. Not against basic structure: It is established principle that reservation shall have a cap of 50%. The government notification providing 10% reservation to weaker economic sections of society was struck down in Indra Sawhney v. UOI. However these rulings were given in relation to a law and have never been discarded in violation of Basic Structure Doctrine. Also, the existing articles 15(4), 15(5) and 16(4) do not mention that reservation shall be 50% explicitly, by way of legislation. Thus basic structure does not seem to be violated.
  3. Promote economic welfare: 103rd amendment act promote economic welfare of the society. It enable inclusion of those who are left behind because of economic disabilities. Thus it enable economic welfare of the society.
  4. Decrease inequalities: In India economic inequalities are high. About top 1% own major resources of the economy. 103rd amendment act ensure distribution of resources and reduce income inequality in the economy.
  5. Ensure economic growth: 103rd amendment act ensure economic growth by reaping demographic dividend. It ensure an inclusive growth by providing equal opportunity to economically weaker section of society.

Although 103rd amendment act has many advantages it poses a difficult judicial examination than usual. No doubt it envision to uplift economically weaker sections of the society, but its constitutional validity need to be examined.

What is the law on EWS reservations?

The 103rd Amendment of 2019 inserted Articles 15(6) and 16(6) in the Constitution to provide 10 per cent reservation to EWS other than backward classes, SCs, and STs in higher educational institutions and initial recruitment in government jobs. The rationale was that the amendment could empower state governments to provide reservations on the basis of economic backwardness – determined by criteria such as land size owned, annual income, etc.

The EWS reservation was granted based on the recommendations of a commission headed by Major General (retd) S R Sinho. The commission, which was constituted by the UPA government in March 2005, submitted its report in July 2010.

The Sinha Commission recommended that all below-poverty-line (BPL) families within the general category as notified from time to time, and also all families whose annual family income from all sources is below the taxable limit, should be identified as EBCs (economically backward classes).

Why is EWS reservation under challenge?

Calling the amendment “an attack on the constitutional vision of social justice” and “a fraud on the Constitution”, those petitioning against it contend that if upheld, it will be the end of equality of opportunity. They also argue that it violates the basic structure of the Constitution and breaches the 50 per cent ceiling for reservation fixed by the Supreme Court ruling in the Mandal Commission case.

As the late PS Krishnan, a former Secretary to the Government of India wrote in The Indian Express in 2019, “As the Mandal judgment describes, the founding fathers of the Constitution were keenly and poignantly aware of the ‘historic injustices and inequities’ prevalent over the centuries in Indian society. These were not inequities against individuals. These were deprivations imposed on certain social classes as a whole.” He pointed out the key issues of access to education and employment, denied on the basis of identity to those groups for whom reservation of seats was brought in before 2019.

Attorney General K K Venugopal had drafted four issues for the consideration of the Bench. On September 8, the court decided to take up three of them:

  • “Whether the 103rd Constitution Amendment can be said to breach the basic structure of the Constitution by permitting the state to make special provisions, including reservation, based on economic criteria”;
  • “Whether it (the amendment) can be said to breach the basic structure…by permitting the state to make special provisions in relation to admission to private unaided institutions”;
  • Whether the basic structure is violated by “excluding the SEBCs (Socially and Educationally Backward Classes)/ OBCs (Other Backward Classes)/ SCs (Scheduled Castes)/ STs (Scheduled Tribes) from the scope of EWS reservation”.

What has the government argued?

  1. Backing the EWS quota, the then Attorney General K K Venugopal told the court that it would not in any way erode the rights of the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). “EWS have been given reservation for the first time. On the other hand, so far as the SCs and STs are concerned, they have been loaded with benefits by way of affirmative actions,” he said.
  2. Against the argument of violation of the basic structure, the government said that “to sustain a challenge against a constitutional amendment, it must be shown that the very identity of the Constitution has been altered”.
  3. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment also argued that under Article 46 of the Constitution, part of Directive Principles of State Policy that is non-justiceable, the state can take such measures as it has a duty to protect the interests of economically weaker sections: “The state shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.”

SC’s Judgement on EWS Quota

The Supreme Court of India on Monday upheld the constitutional validity of 10% reservation in jobs and education for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). A five-judge Constitution bench of the top court led by Chief Justice of India Uday Umesh Lalit delivered the judgment with a majority view that it does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=\”1/2\” is_sticky=\”yes\” sticky_min_width=\”767\” sticky_top=\”130\” sticky_bottom=\”0\”][vc_custom_heading text=\”EWS Quota | ECONOMICALLY WEAKER SECTION (EWS) QUOTA | TIMETEA | SHIELD IAS\” font_container=\”tag:h2|font_size:24PX|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff|line_height:34PX\” use_theme_fonts=\”yes\” css=\”.vc_custom_1668160756485{margin-top: 0px !important;margin-bottom: 0px !important;padding-top: 10px !important;padding-right: 10px !important;padding-bottom: 10px !important;padding-left: 10px !important;background-color: #434a9b !important;}\”][vc_video link=\”https://youtu.be/uBWH9nLXZ9Q\” css=\”.vc_custom_1668160729329{margin-top: 0px !important;padding-top: 0px !important;}\”][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section]

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