10 pc weaker sec quota bill challenged in SC

10 pc weaker sec quota bill challenged in SC

The petition, filed by Youth For Equality organisation and Kaushal Kant Mishra, sought the quashing of the bill saying that the economic criterion cannot be the sole basis for reservation. PTI File Photo

An organisation opposed to caste-based quota on Thursday approached the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional amendment providing 10% reservation in jobs and educational institutions to economically weaker sections of the society.

'Youth for Equality' questioned the validity of the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act, 2019 which was passed by the both the Houses of Parliament after being presented as the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The writ petition settled by advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan contended that the insertion of Articles 15(6) and 16(6) in the Constitution would “alter the basic structure of the Constitution and to annul binding judgements of the Supreme Court”.

“The constitutional amendments fail to consider that Articles 14 and 16 form the basic feature of equality and that they have been violated with the doing away of the restraints that were imposed on the reservation policy, i.e. the 50% ceiling limit and the exclusion of economic status as a sole criterion,” the petition stated.

The petitioner cited the Supreme Court's nine-judge bench judgement in Indira Sawhney (Mandal) case which held that the sole economic criteria could not be a basis for reservation and that the 50% ceiling limit ought not to be crossed.

It also relied upon the 'M Nagaraj' judgement by a five-judge Constitution bench which had upheld the constitutional validity of Art 16(4A), 16(4B), subject to certain conditions like undertaking proper exercises by the State to show that there was, in fact an inadequacy of representation.

“This is an overwhelming violation of the basic feature of equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution and elsewhere,” it added.

The petitioner contended that the use of the expression “economically weaker sections” remained undefined by the amendment and was left to be notified by “the state”.

“Not only is it unclear whether the central government and state governments can both define the expression separately, but they both may define it differently. This level of untrammelled vagueness makes the insertion arbitrary and unworkable,” it said.