Economic criteria cannot be the sole basis to identify backwardness of a class, SC told

SC was told that economic criteria cannot be the sole basis to identify backwardness of a class because economic backwardness is a consequence and social and educational backwardness the cause for it

Supreme Court
Supreme Court
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IANS

The Supreme Court was on Wednesday told that economic criteria cannot be the sole basis to identify backwardness of a class because economic backwardness is a consequence and social and educational backwardness the cause for it.

The submission was made to a five-judge constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice U.U. Lalit, which is hearing a batch of petitions challenging validity of the 103rd constitutional amendment to provide a 10 per cent quota to economically weaker sections (EWS) in government jobs and admissions.

It was argued that the reservation under Article 15(6) and Article 16(6) is ultra vires to Article 14 as well as Article 15(4)(5), 16(4) (4A), as the reservation to the economically weaker section, ultimately, protects the interest of the general category.

It was also argued that the unequal classes in whose favour reservation is given under Article 15(4)(5) and Article 16 will be treated equally with privileged general category candidates in the matter of admission of educational institutions as well as in matters of employment, which violates Article 14 of the Constitution.

The 103rd Constitution Amendment Act, Article 15(6) and 16(6) was added in the Constitution giving reservation to the EWS of the society who are not covered by Article 15(4), (5).

Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, representing some petitioners, submitted that the amendments are ultra vires to the Constitution as it violates the ceiling cap of maximum 50 per cent seats to be reserved under for the underprivileged class, as laid down in M.R.Balaji Vs State of Mysore (1963), which was affirmed by the Supreme Court in Indra Sahney's case, while holding that no provision of reservation or preference can be so vigorously pursued as to destroy the very concept of equality.


Khurshid submitted that the "class of economic weaker section" is already included in the "classes" who are protected under clause (4)(5) of Article 15 because the 'social backwardness' is the cause and not the consequence of the economic, educational, and political backwardness in society.

He submitted that the general bourgeoisie class which constitute only 30 per cent of the whole population already have 50 per cent of seats which are unreserved in which persons belonging to the classes mentioned under clauses (4)(5) cannot compete due the lack of standard of facilities and resources to which the general bourgeoisie class have privilege to avail.

Senior advocates Khurshid, and P. Wilson and advocate Ravi Verma Kumar made submission before the top court.

The bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari, S. Ravindra Bhat, Bela M. Trivedi, and J.B. Pardiwala, will continue to hear arguments on Thursday.

A three-judge bench of the apex court in August 2020, had referred the pleas questioning its validity to the Constitution bench. The Centre had earlier told the apex court that a 10 per cent EWS quota was introduced to promote social equality by providing equal opportunities in higher education and employment to those who were excluded due to their economic status.

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