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The Supreme Court today issued notice in a batch of petitions challenging the Constitution (103rd) Amendment Act, 2019 which introduces ten percent reservation for those belonging to economically weaker sections of the society.
The matter was heard by a Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, which proceeded to seek the response of the Union government. The Bench, however, did not grant a stay on the amendment.
The Economic Reservation Bill was passed by both Houses of Parliament within a span of two days. Three days after it was approved by Parliament, the President accorded his assent for the same. However, even as Presidential assent was pending, the NGO Youth for Equality moved the Supreme Court challenging the legislation.
Two days after it was assented to, on January 14, the Economic Reservation Act came into force.
Subsequently, a slew of petitions came to be filed in Supreme Court challenging the amendment. The petition filed by NGO Youth for Equality contends that the amendment violates several basic features of the Constitution.
The amendment inserts Articles 15(6) and 16(6) in the Constitution which permit the following:
The petition states that economic criteria cannot be the sole basis for reservations under the Constitution. The same has been held in the Constitution bench judgment in Indira Sawhney Vs. Union of India.
Further, the petition argues that 50 percent ceiling limit for reservation which has been laid down in M Nagaraj v. Union of India & Ors., cannot be breached as the same has been engrafted as a part of the basic structure of the Constitution’s equality code.
The petition also states that economic reservation, if brought in, cannot be limited to the general category.
The exclusion of the OBCs and the SCs/STs from the scope of the economic reservation essentially implies that only those who are poor from the general categories would avail the benefits of the quotas, the petitioner submits.
Read the order below.