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EWS quota: Supreme Court will continue hearing arguments tomorrow

 Justice S A Bobde today said that it will continue hearing arguments tomorrow on question of whether challenge to the amendment needs to be referred to a Constitution Bench

EWS quota: Supreme Court will continue hearing arguments tomorrow

The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice S A Bobde today said that it will continue hearing arguments tomorrow on question of whether challenge to the amendment needs to be referred to a Constitution Bench. The Court said it will first decide the question of reference and then on prayer for interim stay.

Begin hearing from July 16 the petitions chalenging the 10% quota for Economically Weaker Sections(EWS) introduced by 103rd Constitution Amendment passed by Parliament last January

The bench also agreed to hear the plea for interim stay of implementation of the EWS quota. A bunch of petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court contending that the amendment introducing Articles 15(6) and 16(6) in the Constitution to provide for EWS quota in education and government jobs violated the basis structure of the Constitution. The CJI-led bench of the apex court had issued notice on the petitions on January 25

Referring to the nine judges bench decision of the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case(1992), the petitioners such as NGO Youth for Equality, political activist Tehseen Poonawalla, Advocates Reepak Khansal & Pawan etc. state that a fluctuating state like economic condition cannot be made the criteria for reservation, as the intent of the affirmative action is to eradicate backwardness caused due to social and community status. Making room for providing quota up to 10% to economically weaker sections in addition to the existing reservations breaches the 50% cap set by Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case, the petitioners further point out

"Economically weaker sections" for the purposes of Articles 15 and 16 mean such sections as notified by the State from time to time on the basis of family income and other indicators of economic disadvantage. This will be a class distinct from the already specified classes of SCs, STs and socially and educationally backward classes.

The Centre has defended the amendment by stating that the newly inserted provisions are in fact, in conformity with the principle of affirmative action

The challenge on the ground that EWS quota will breach 50% limit of reservation is rebutted by stating that this limit imposed by Supreme Court in Indira Sawhney case is not applicable after constitution amendment.

The Centre also negates the petitioners' argument that reservation cannot be provided only on the basis of economic criteria. It is highlighted that several Committees have been set up wherein quantifiable data has been collected highlighting the need for having reservation for the economically weaker sections of the society. Economic criteria has been held to be a relevant factor for determination of social and educational backwardness, stated the affidavit filed by the Central Government.

Meanwhile, the Department of Personnel and Training has already issued instructions to apply EWS quota for all posts and vacancies notified after

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