SC seeks Centre's reply on plea against 10% quota for general category poor

Photo: Aashish Aryan

The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the Centre on a fresh plea challenging its decision to grant 10 per cent reservation in jobs and admissions to general category poor candidates.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also made it clear that there shall be no stay on the decision to grant quota to general category poor candidates.

The apex court, which had earlier issued notice to the Centre on similar petitions, Friday ordered tagging of the fresh plea of Tehseen Poonawalla with pending ones.

Petitions have been filed by parties, including 'Janhit Abhiyan' and NGO 'Youth For Equality', challenging the Centre's decision.

The petition, filed by Youth For Equality through its president Kaushal Kant Mishra, has sought the quashing of the Constitution (103 Amendment) Act, 2019, saying that the economic criterion cannot be the sole basis for reservation and that the bill violates basic feature of the Constitution as reservation on economic grounds cannot be limited to the general category and the overall 50 per cent ceiling limit cannot be breached.

In the present form, the upper limit of quota goes up to 60 per cent which violated the decisions of the apex court.

Referring to the nine-judge bench decision of the apex court in the landmark 1992 Indira Sawhney case, the petition said the latest amendment completely violated the Constitutional norm that economic criterion cannot be the only basis of reservation.

It also said that the amendments fail to consider that Articles 14 and 16 form the basic feature of equality, and that they have been violated with the doing away of the restraints that were imposed on the reservation policy, i.e. the 50 per cent ceiling limit and the exclusion of economic status as a sole criterion.

Later in a press release, the organisation said in principle it's a welcome step and that deprivation and not caste has been made the basis of protective discrimination.

"However, the limit of total reservation is increased to 60 per cent. This will open a pandora's box. Now more and more political parties/caste groups will claim for increased percentage of reservations, both at the Centre and state level," it said.

The fresh filed by businessman Poonawalla has sought quashing of the bill, saying that backwardness for the purpose of reservation cannot be defined by "economic status alone".

The top court had earlier refused to stay the Modi government's decision to grant the reservation but agreed to examine the validity of the constitutional amendment which paved the way for this quota.

In poll year, the Modi government has come out with the constitutional amendment bill giving quota benefits to the poor among general category candidates.

The quota will be over and above the existing 50 per cent reservation to SCs, STs and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha cleared the bill on January 8 and 9 respectively, and has been signed by President Ram Nath Kovind.



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