Case Description

Several writ petitions have challenged the constitutionality of the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019, which introduces reservations for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).

Background

On January 9th. 2019, the Parliament of India enacted the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019 and enabled the State to make reservations in higher education and matters of public employment on the basis of economic criteria alone. Articles 15 and 16 have been amended by virtue of the Act, which received the presidential assent on 12th January 2019 and was published in the Gazette on the same day.

 

The amendment under Article 15(6) enables the State to make special provisions for the advancement of any economically weaker section of citizens, including reservations in educational institutions. It states that such reservation can be made in any educational institution, including private institutions, whether aided or unaided, except minority educational institutions covered under Article 30(1). It further states that the upper limit of reservation will be 10% and that this will be in addition to the existing reservations. Further, under Article 16(6), the amendment enables the State to make provision for reservation in appointments, in addition to the existing reservations, subject to a maximum of 10%. At present, reservations account for a total of 49.5%, with 15%, 7.5% and 27% quotas for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes respectively.

Issues

1) Whether the addition of 10% reservations for Economically Weaker Sections in higher education and public employment is unconstitutional, as it breaches and exceeds the 50% limit for reservations as laid down in Indra Sawhney vs Union of India in 1993?

2) Whether reservations under the Constitution scheme can be prescribed only on the basis of economic criteria and not social and educational backwardness?

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