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Govt. to revisit ‘criteria’ for determining EWS

Context:

The Government informed the Supreme Court that it has taken a “considered decision” to revisit the “criteria” for determining Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) to provide them reservation.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Social Sector & Social Services, Education and Health related Issues, Government Policies and initiatives)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. EWS Reservation
  2. About the tussle between Govt. and SC about EWS
  3. About the SC order on criteria for EWS

EWS Reservation

  • The economic reservation was introduced in the Constitution by amending Articles 15 and 16 and adding clauses empowering the State governments to provide reservation on the basis of economic backwardness.
  • Article 15 of the Constitution prohibits discrimination against any citizen on the grounds of race, religion, caste, sex, or place of birth.
  • However, the government may make special provisions for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes, or for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • The 103rd Amendment Bill seeks to amend Article 15 to additionally permit the government to provide for the advancement of “economically weaker sections”.
  • Further, up to 10% of seats may be reserved for such sections for admission in educational institutions. (Such reservation will not apply to minority educational institutions.)
  • The reservation of up to 10% for “economically weaker sections” in educational institutions and public employment will be in addition to the existing reservation (Even if it breaches the 50% reservation limit rule.)
  • The central government will notify the “economically weaker sections” of citizens on the basis of family income and other indicators of economic disadvantage.

About the tussle between Govt. and SC about EWS

  • The SC asked for the government to reveal the logic and study before zeroing in on the “exact figure” of ₹8 lakh as the annual income limit to identify the EWS.
  • The Union Government has taken a considered decision to revisit the criteria for determining the economically weaker sections in terms of the provisions of the Explanation to Article 15 of the Constitution inserted by the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act 2019 – according to SC.
  • The court was hearing a case filed by NEET aspirants challenging a July 29 notification announcing 27% quota to OBCs and 10% reservation to EWS in the All India Quota (AIQ) category.

About the SC order on criteria for EWS

  • The Supreme Court had earlier raised several questions about this criterion and made a prima facie observation that it appeared to be arbitrary, while hearing a batch of petitions related to NEET-AIQ.
  • The Government assured the court that the NEET counselling would be deferred for four weeks till a decision was taken on the EWS quota.
  • In a previous hearing, the apex court had expressed its annoyance at the Government for not filing an affidavit explaining how it reached the ₹8 lakh figure to identify the EWS category.
  • The court had even threatened to “stay the Government notification fixing ₹8 lakh for determining the EWS”.

-Source: The Hindu

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October 2022
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