Supreme Court upholds 10% EWS reservation for admission, government jobs

Three judges observed that EWS quota does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution while two judges including CJI dissented.

Supreme Court (Source: Shutterstock)Supreme Court (Source: Shutterstock)

Vagisha Kaushik | November 7, 2022 | 11:30 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today upheld the 10 percent Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) reservation saying that the law does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution. Of the five judges who delivered the verdict, three upheld the validity of the 103rd Constitution amendment whereas two including the Chief Justice of India (CJI) dissented.

The top court had on September 27 reserved the verdict on the legal question of whether the EWS reservation violated the basic structure of the Constitution after hearing senior lawyers in the marathon hearing that had lasted for six-and-half-day.

Verdicts of the five judges:

  • Justice Dinesh Maheshwari : Reservation structured singularly on economic criteria does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.
  • Justice Bela Trivedi : At the end of 75 years of independence, we need to revisit the system of reservation in the larger interests of the society.
  • Justice B Pardiwala : While concurring with Justice Maheshwari and Bela Trivedi and while upholding the impugned amendment, I have thought it fit to observe "Reservation is not an end, it is means, it should not be allowed to become a vested interest"
  • Justice S Ravindra Bhat : Our constitution does not permit exclusion and this amendment undermines the fabric of social justice and thereby the basic structure.
  • CJI Uday Umesh Lalit : I have concurred with the view taken by Justice Bhat in its entirety.

EWS reservation

The top court heard as many as 40 petitions and most of the pleas, including the lead one filed by 'Janhit Abhiyan' in 2019, challenged the validity of the Constitution Amendment (103rd) Act 2019.

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The bench had said the three issues suggested by the attorney general for the decision "broadly" covered all the aspects relating to the petitions on the constitutional validity of the decision to grant the reservation. "Whether the 103rd Constitution amendment Act can be said to breach the basic structure of the Constitution by permitting the State to make special provisions, including reservation, based on economic criteria," read the first issue framed.

The second legal question was whether the constitutional amendment could be said to breach the basic structure by permitting the state to make special provisions concerning admissions to private unaided institutions. "Whether the 103rd Constitution amendment can be said to breach the basic structure of the Constitution in excluding the SEBCs/OBCs, SCs/STs from the scope of EWS reservation," the third issue, to be adjudicated upon by the bench, read.

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