SC may refer 10% quota issue to Constitution bench

SC may refer 10% quota issue to Constitution bench

The Supreme Court on Monday said it will consider passing an order on March 28 if PILs pertaining to 10% reservation to economically weaker sections in jobs and education could be referred to the Constitution bench.

A bench of Chief Justice and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, once again, refused to pass any interim order as of now on the validity of the Constitution (103 rd Amendment) Act, 2019 which granted reservation to poor general category candidates. SC refuses to consider a plea for interim order to maintain 50% limit on quota.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for one of the petitioners, Congress sympathiser Tehseen Poonawalla, contended the decision would breach the 'basic structure doctrine' of the Constitution which is 50 % limit on the reservation.

He said the reservation issue has been dealt with by the Constitution bench in M Nagaraj (2006) and Jarnail Singh (2018) and it was held that 50 % limit was a part of the basic structure. He urged the court to pass interim orders to ensure 50% limit on quota was not breached.

The bench, however, said no interim order was required at this stage. The court said it may consider passing order on March 28 issue of reference of the matter to Constitution bench.

The court had last month too refused to pass any immediate order of stay on the Centre's law to give 10 % quota for economically weaker sections in job and education.

In his petition, Poonawalla sought a direction for quashing of the law on the ground that backwardness for the purpose of reservation cannot be defined by "economic status alone".

"The Constitutional amendment formally violated the law laid down by the Supreme Court's 1992 ruling in Indra Sawhney case and the principle that backwardness for the purposes of reservation cannot be defined on economic status alone but must be rooted in social exclusion," it said.

An organisation, 'Youth for Equality' had already filed a writ petition challenging 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. It sought a direction to stay the operation of the Act and quash it.

The petition 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 judgments of the Supreme Court”.

The 10% quota for economically weaker sections in government jobs and higher educational institutions, including in private sector, became the law of the land after President Ram Nath Kovind on January 12 gave his assent to it.