Quota for economically backward signed into law
14 January 2019
The bill to provide 10 per cent reservation in jobs and educational institutions to the economically backward section in the general category that was approved by both Houses of Parliament has been signed into law by the President as amendment to a fundamental right need not be ratified by the state legislatures.
The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Fourth Amendment) Bill of 2019 providing up to 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections of the society has now been notified as law of the land.
Accordingly, new clauses to Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution that come under the part of ‘Fundamental Rights’ in the text of the Constitution stands amended.
The new clause (6) to Article 15 allows the government to carve reservation for the economically weaker sections of the society in higher educational institutions, including private ones, whether they are aided or not by the state. Minority educational institutions are exempted. Likewise, the new clause (6) to Article 16 provides for quota for economically-deprived sections in the initial appointment in government services.
“In article 15 of the Constitution, after clause (5), the following clause shall be inserted, namely, ‘(6) Nothing in this article or sub-clause (g) of clause (1) of article 19 or clause (2) of article 29 shall prevent the state from making: — (a) any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clauses (4) and (5); and (b) any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clauses (4) and (5) in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions, including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the state, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of Article 30, which in the case of reservation would be in addition to the existing reservations and subject to a maximum of ten per cent of the total seats in each category.”
Meanwhile, the bill has been challenged in the Supreme Court even before it was signed into law by the President.
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.
The plea said the bill violates basic feature of the Constitution as reservation on economic grounds cannot be limited to the general categories and the 50 per cent ceiling limit cannot be breached.