MHC issues notice to Centre on 10% quota

MHC issues notice to Centre on 10% quota

Objecting to the ASG's contentions, the petitioner's counsel P Wilson alleged it was only the Union government which was opposing the plea.

The Madras High Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre and Tamil Nadu government on DMK’s petition challenging the Union government’s move to grant 10% reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) in the general category.

A Division Bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramanioum Prasad ordered notices to the Centre and state government returnable by February 18, 2019. The judges told Additional Solicitor General (ASG) G Rajagopal to puts all the objections of the Centre in writing by the next date of hearing.

After opposing the Constitution Amendment Bill in Parliament, DMK, through its Rajya Sabha MP R S Bharathi, had on Friday moved the Madras High Court challenging the Centre’s move.

At the hearing on Monday, Rajagopal accused Bharati of filing the case with “political motives” and questioned the maintainability of the case when the DMK was very much a part of the process through which the Constitutional Amendment Bill was passed by Parliament.

The DMK was one of the very few parties which voted against the Constitution Amendment Bill that paves way for 10% for EWS in employment and education in Rajya Sabha. Though the AIADMK spoke against the bill, it did not vote against the legislation since its members staged a walk-out during voting.

The party, which was part of the National Front government under V P Singh that introduced quota for OBCs in jobs and education, has been opposed to reservation based on economic status. The DMK wants the quota-based on caste to prevail as it feels it is the only way to ensure social justice in the country.

In his petition, Bharathi had said a reservation is not a poverty alleviation programme but is more in the nature of social justice to uplift communities that have not had access to education or employment for centuries.

"Therefore, essentially, the exception to the equality clause is only available to those communities which were ostracised for centuries in matters of education and employment. Economic criteria have been, however, used as a filter to exclude the creamy layer, persons belonging to the backward classes but who are economically advanced," he said in the petition.

It was well settled that the ceiling limit of 50% in reservation is also part of the basic structure, which has been upheld by the Supreme Court, Bharathi said and brought to attention of the court that the ceiling limit is 69% in Tamil Nadu due to reservation for Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes which is placed in the IX Schedule.

“Hence, a reservation cannot be beyond 69% in the state. However, the recent amendments enable reservation to go up to 79% and the same is unconstitutional,” he had said.