A Key Supreme Court Decision On Quota For Poor (EWS) Today: 10 Points

The petitioners had questioned several aspects of the EWS quota

New Delhi:
A 10 per cent reservation in all colleges and government jobs for the poorer sections of India’s so-called “upper castes”, introduced just before the 2019 general elections, will be at stake as the Supreme Court rules on its validity today.

Here is your 10-point guide to the EWS quota case in the Supreme Court today:

  1. The reservation was aimed at Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) – a key vote base of the ruling BJP – and bypasses existing affirmative action which benefit communities that have been traditionally marginalised in Indian society.

  2. The 103rd constitutional amendment was cleared in January 2019 soon after the BJP lost Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh elections, and was instantly challenged in the Supreme Court.

  3. While most opposition parties, including the Congress, did not oppose the law, as many as 40 petitions were heard by the Supreme Court against it, including by the state of Tamil Nadu which has among the highest reservation in the country arranged in a delicate balance.

  4. The petitioners had questioned several aspects of the EWS quota, including how it could cross the 50 per cent national cap on reservation set by the Supreme Court in 1992 and whether it changed the “basic structure” of the constitution.

  5. The basic structure of the constitution, which includes provisions like rule of law and separation of powers, was decided as off-limits to parliament by the Supreme Court in 1973.

  6. Hearing the EWS case, the court said its decision would rest on answering three fundamental questions, including whether the amendment changed the basic structure of the constitution by allowing economic status as a factor for reservation.

  7. The two other questions were whether private institutions could be forced to follow it, and could the quota exclude communities historically side-lined based on caste, religion and tribe.

  8. The government argued the change would help lift people out of poverty and does not violate the constitution’s tenets or previous Supreme Court orders.

  9. The case was first presented before three judges, who referred it to a larger five-judge bench in 2019. This September, the court held a marathon six-and-half-day hearing of the case and reserved its verdict.

  10. The five judges led by Chief Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, who retires tomorrow, are expected to deliver their verdict on the case today.

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