Illustration: Neeharika Balaji
Illustration: Neeharika Balaji

SC majority verdict upholds 10% quota to EWS

One-liner: In a landmark verdict, the SC by a majority view of 3:2 on Monday upheld the validity of the 103rd Constitution amendment providing 10% quota to people belonging to the economically weaker sections (EWS) in admissions and govt jobs.

No violation: The court said the quota does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.

4 separate verdicts: A five-judge constitution bench headed by CJ U U Lalit pronounced four separate verdicts on 40 petitions challenging the validity of the 103rd Constitution amendment promulgated by the Centre in 2019.

For and against: While Justices Dinesh Maheshwari, Bela M Trivedi and J B Pardiwala upheld the law, Justice S Ravindra Bhat along with the CJI shot down the same in their minority view. The judges read four separate judgments for over 35 minutes in the courtroom.

No breaching: Justice Maheshwari, who read the judgment for himself, said the 103rd constitutional amendment can't be said to have breached the basic structure of the Constitution.

Affirmative action: He said reservation is an instrument of affirmative action so as to ensure an all-inclusive march towards the goals of an egalitarian society and it is a means of the inclusion of any class or section so disadvantaged.

Can't be struck down: Justice Trivedi said the 103rd constitutional amendment can't be struck down on grounds of being discriminatory. She said the 103rd Constitution amendment has to be treated as affirmative action by Parliament for the benefit of EWS class.

Validity upheld: Justice J B Pardiwala concurred with their views and upheld the validity of the amendment.

Not for indefinite period: Justice Pardiwala, however, said reservation is meant to secure social justice but it should not continue for an indefinite time so that it becomes a vested interest. 

Dissent: Justice S Ravindra Bhat, in a minority view, dissented and struck down the constitutional amendment on the EWS quota. He declared the 103rd Amendment Act as unconstitutional and void on grounds that it is violative of the basic structure of the Constitution. CJI Lalit concurred with the view of Justice Bhat.

Opinion: The apex court had on Sept 27 reserved the verdict on the legal question of whether the EWS quota violated the basic structure of the Constitution after hearing a battery of senior lawyers, including the then Attorney General K K Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

  • The Centre, through the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act, of 2019, introduced the provision for EWS reservation in admissions and public services.

Promoting social equality: Earlier, the Centre, in 2019, had also told the apex court that its law, granting a 10% quota for EWS, was brought in to promote social equality by providing equal opportunities in higher education and employment to those who have been excluded by virtue of their economic status.

Source: PTI