From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not Much
Mains level : Deabte over quotas
- The Bench is examining whether to refer to a Constitution Bench a batch of petitions challenging the validity of a constitutional amendment providing 10% economic quota in government jobs and educational institutions.
Why issue over Quota?
- The Supreme Court orally remarked that excessive quota may impact the right to equal opportunity guaranteed under the Constitution.
- The court said quota benefits given to the most “forward” classes, especially to those who had no qualification whatsoever, would result in “excess” reservation and breach equality.
- Reservation itself is an exception. Reservation is intended to achieve equality of opportunity.
Referring Indra Sawhney case
- The economic reservation violated the 50% reservation ceiling limit fixed by a nine-judge Bench in the Indra Sawhney case.
- Further, the 1992 judgment had barred reservation solely on economic criterion.
- In a 6:3 majority verdict, the apex court, in the Indra Sawhney case, had held that “a backward class cannot be determined only and exclusively with reference to economic criterion.
- It may be a consideration or basis along with and in addition to social backwardness, but it can never be the sole criterion.
Issue over economically backward quota
- After a gap of 27 years, the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act of 2019 has provided 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the “economically backward” in the unreserved category.
- The Act amends Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution by adding clauses empowering the government to provide reservation on the basis of economic backwardness.
- This 10% economic reservation is over and above the 50% reservation cap.
- The government however has justified to the apex court that the 10% economic quota law was a move towards a classless and casteless society.
- It said the law was meant to benefit a “large section of the population of 135 crore people” who are mostly lower middle class and below poverty line.