‘It does not violate basic structure of Constitution’ Supreme Court upholds 10% EWS quota

A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Monday upheld the validity of the 103rd Amendment Act 2019 of the Constitution, which provides for 10% EWS reservation among the general category. Four judges uphold the act while one judge gives a dissenting judgment. The Center has earlier submitted before the Supreme Court that EWS reservation does not violate infrastructure.

Matter relating to constitutional validity of reservation of Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in higher education and issues of public employment based on financial conditions.

A five-member Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice U.U. Lalit and Justices Dinesh Maheshwari, S Ravindra Bhat, Bela M Trivedi and JB Pardiwala had also reserved the judgment on September 27.

Justice Maheshwari, who read the judgment himself, said that the 103rd Constitutional Amendment cannot be said to be violative of the basic structure of the Constitution.

Justice Bhat, in a minority, struck down and struck down the constitutional amendment on the EWS quota. CJI Lalit concurred with Justice Bhat’s view.

The marathon hearing in the case lasted for about seven days, where a battery of senior lawyers led the petitioners and (then) Attorney General K.K. Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta defended the EWS quota.

The petitioners had submitted before the Supreme Court that providing reservation on the basis of economic criteria, except for SC, ST and OBC non-creamy layer, is a violation of the Equality Code.

The Center has earlier submitted before the Supreme Court that EWS reservation does not violate infrastructure.

Attorney General Venugopal, representing the Centre, had earlier submitted that SCs and STs have been given benefits through affirmative action – reservation in government jobs, promotion in legislatures, panchayats and municipalities – and EWS quota of origin. does not violate the structure of the Constitution, as he defended the 103rd Constitutional Amendment.

He said that the EWS quota has been given without disturbing the 50 per cent quota, which is meant for Socially and Economically Backward Classes (SEBCs). The AG said that each of the backward classes, including SCs, STs and OBCs, included economically weaker sections, and the general category also included economically weaker sections, who were extremely poor. The AG argued that SC, ST and OBC quota is a self-contained category of backwardness and the EWS quota is separate.