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10% Quota for general category

10% Quota for general category

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  • GS 2 || Polity || Constitutional Framework || Amendment of the Constitution

Why in news?

  • The Union Cabinet has approved a proposal for introduction of the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty- Fourth Amendment) Bill, extending 10% quota to “the economically weaker sections in the general category who are not covered by any of the existing schemes of reservation”

Details

  • The bill is designed to amend the Constitution to extend 10% reservation in direct recruitment in government jobs and for admission in higher educational institutions to “economically weaker” sections among all castes and communities, Christians and Muslims included, who are not eligible under the existing quotas.

Who are economically weaker sections ?

  • The proposed amendment Bill will define Economically Weaker Section (EWS) as one having:
    • Annual household income below Rs 8 lakh.
    • Agriculture land below 5 acres.
    • Residential house below 1000 sqft.
    • Residential plot below 100 yards in notified municipality.
    • Residential plot below 200 yards in non-notified municipality area.

Provisions of amendment Bill

  • It will need an amendment of Articles 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth) and 16 (equality of opportunity in matters of public employment) of the Constitution.
  • The amendment will have to be ratified in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, by at least two thirds of members present and voting, and by the legislatures of not less than half the states.

Implications

  • The 10% reservation will be in addition to the existing cap of 50% reservation for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes, taking total reservation to 60%. The quota targets the poor among the upper castes. This will be over and above 50% mandated by Constitution and hence the need for Constitution amendment Bill.

Challenges

  • The proposed law would face roadblocks if challenged in the Supreme Court.
  • A nine-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case of 1992 specifically answered the question “whether backward classes can be identified only and exclusively with reference to the economic criterion.”
  • The constitution bench had categorically ruled that a backward class cannot be determined only and exclusively with reference to economic criterion. The bench had held that economic criterion may be a consideration or basis along with, and in addition to, social backwardness, but it can never be the sole criterion.
  • The bench in its judgement declared 50% quota as the rule unless extraordinary situations “inherent in the great diversity of this country and the people” happen. Even then, the court stated that extreme caution is to be exercised and a special case should be made out.

Additional information  – About article 15 and 16 of the constitution

  • Article 15 in the constitution of India :
    • The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
    • No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and palaces of public entertainment; or the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public.
    • It empowers the State to make special provision for women and children.
    • It empowers the State to make special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
    • It empowers the State to make special provision, by law, for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the SCs or the STs in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions except the minority educational institutions.
  • Article 16 in The Constitution Of India :
    • There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State
    • No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect or, any employment or office under the State
    • It empowers the Parliament for making any law prescribing, in regard to a class or classes of employment or appointment to an office under the Government of, or any local or other authority within, a State or Union territory, any requirement as to residence within that State or Union territory prior to such employment or appointment.
    • It empowers the State to make provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favor of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.
    • A law can provide that the incumbent of an office related to the religious or denominational institution or a member of its governing body should belong to the particular religion or denomination.