The Madras High Court on Monday issued a notice to the Centre on a petition challenging the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019, which provides 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections in the general category. The HC has asked the Centre to file its reply by February 18.
The petition was filed by DMK organising secretary R S Bharathi last week, stating that reservation was not a “poverty alleviation programme” but more in the nature of a “social justice programme to uplift communities which have not had access to education or employment and consequently do not have representation in the services of the state or in upper echelons of society”.
The Madras HC decision came after a bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramoniam Prasad heard arguments made by the petitioner and the State.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate P Wilson argued that reservation was introduced in the interest of communities that are socially and educationally backwards. The state cannot introduce new economic criteria, Bar and Bench quoted Wilson as saying.
“Tomorrow, a person who has an Audi car may come as EWS. The substance is that it is upper caste reservation…It affects the basic structure of the Constitution,” he said.
Defending the law, under which a family with gross annual income below Rs 8 lakh will be eligible for reservation, ASG Rajagopalan, appearing for the state, said the petition was moved in political interest rather than public interest. Rajagopalan argued that Bharathi cannot misuse the court to achieve what he could not achieve in the Rajya Sabha.
The 10 per cent reservation, passed in Parliament and ratified by the President, will be in addition to the existing cap of 50 per cent reservation for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes, taking the total reservation to 60 per cent.
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