Declining to stay the ten per cent reservation introduced by the BJP-led NDA government for the economically weaker section of the general category, the Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the central government and said it “will examine” whether the move was constitutional.
“We will examine… Issue notice, returnable in four weeks. No stay for the present. The matters will be heard after pleadings are complete,”a bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna said on a batch of six petitions which challenged The Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019 introducing the EWS quota. The petitioners have contended that the 10 per cent reservation for the EWS goes against the Supreme Court ruling that total reservation should not exceed 50 per cent.
One of the petitioners, NGO Youth for Equality, citing the 1992 decision of a Constitution Bench in the Indra Sawhney & Others vs Union of India, said the court had “specifically stated that economic criteria cannot be the sole basis for reservation under the Constitution”.
The amendments introducing economic reservation “completely violates the constitutional norm that economic criterion cannot be the only basis of reservation as has been laid down by the 9 judges in Indra Sawhney,” it said, and “such an amendment is hence, vulnerable and ought to be struck down as it merely negates a binding judgment”.
The NGO contended that policy was also violative of the equality principle enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution. Its petition also pointed out that the Supreme Court, in its 2006 order in M Nagaraj & Others vs Union Of India & Others, had said that reservation should not breach the 50 per cent ceiling limit.
According to the petitioner, the quota push was done with an eye on the vote bank, and the changes were “manifestly arbitrary” as it “imposes” reservation on unaided institutions which do not receive any aid from the state.