Economically Weaker Section (EWS) Reservation
The Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act 2019, aims to provide 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutes for economically weaker section (EWS) of the society and it came into effect on January 14, 2019.
Impact of Constitution 103 Amendment Act 2019:
The Preamble of the Constitution talks about ensuring social, economic, and political justice for the citizens of India. Reservation policies were one of the means to realize the goal of ensuring social justice for discriminated sections of the society.
- Articles 15(4) and 16(4) enable the Constitution to provide for reservations in public employment and promotions. Articles 330 and 332 provide for reservations of seats in Parliament and State Assemblies.
Article 46 states that the State will provide for the promotion of educational and economic interests of weaker sections of the society.
- Earlier attempts have been made to provide reservations for economically weaker sections of society by the P.V. Narasimha government in 1991. However, the attempt was not successful as the court held that a provision for reservations for economically weaker sections was invalid as Article 15(4) provided for socially and educationally backward sections and not for economically weaker sections.
- Also, the additional reservation for economically weaker sections violated the judicial doctrine of a 50% ceiling in reservations.
- S R Sinho Commission on Economically Backward Classes (2010) recommended that quotas be provided for the general category poor in government jobs and education.
Features of Constitution 103 Amendment Act 2019:
- The Act has amended Articles 15 and 16 to provide for reservations based on economic backwardness. Article 15 has been amended to include a clause (6), enabling the State to make special provisions for the advancement of economically weaker sections of society, including reservations to educational institutions.
- Educational institutions include private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided, apart from the minority educational institutions referred to in Article 30(1).
- Article 16 has been amended to include a clause (6) which is aimed at providing reservations to people belonging to economically weaker sections of society, subject to an upper limit of 10%.
Eligibility Criteria for EWS Reservation:
The Bill defines the Economically Weaker Section to be as one having
- Family income below Rs. 8 lakh per annum;
- Agricultural land below 5 acres;
- The residential house below 1000 sq. ft;
- The residential plot below 100 yards in the notified municipality; and
- The residential plot is below 200 yards other than in the notified municipality area.
- Critics have argued that the economic criteria of Rs. 8 lakh is too high and will cover nearly the entire population not covered under the existing reservations.
- In the Indira Sawhney case, the Supreme Court has upheld that a backward class cannot be determined exclusively concerning economic criteria.
- The new reservations and the existing reservations will lead to 60% reservations, which will violate the maximum ceiling of 50% in reservations.