The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that economic-based reservation does not contradict the fundamental provisions of the Indian Constitution while hearing a number of petitions contesting the constitutional validity of the 103rd amendment.
Chief Justice UU Lalit and Justice S Ravindra Bhat disagreed with the quota decision, which was supported by Justices Dinesh Maheshwari, Bela M Trivedi, and JB Pardiwala.
Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) now have a 10% reservation in government positions and admittance to educational institutions thanks to the amendment.
A five- judge bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice UU Lalit, pronounced the judgment. Reading out the order, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari said: “EWS reservation does not violate the equality code or violate essential feature of constitution and breach of 50 percent does not violate basic structure as the ceiling limit is here only for 16(4) and (5),” Justice Dinesh Maheshwari said.
He added: “Reservation on economic basis does not violate the basic structure or Constitution of India.”
Justice Bela M Trivedi, while concurring with Justice Maheshwari’s statement, said: “The quota requires to be treated as affirmative action by the Parliament. No violation of Article 14 or basic structure of constitution is noted.”
He added, “The EWS quota does not affect the rights of reserved classes by exempting them from its purview. The reservation was brought in to address inequalities created by the caste system. After 75 years, we need to revisit policy to live up to the philosophy of transformative constitutionalism.”
Justice JB Pardiwala, too, was in favour of upholding the quota. “The reservation is not an end, but means to secure social and economic justice… It must not be allowed to become a vested interest… The reservation should not continue for indefinite period of time so as to become vested interested.”
Justice Bhat, while dissenting to the judgment of the aforesaid judges, said: “Amendment practices constitutionally prohibited discriminations and strikes at the heart of the quality code. Allowing breach of the 50 per cent cap set on reservation can lead to further infractions which can result in compartmentalisation.”