The Modi government has turned up the heat in the pre-poll battle. The decision to announce a 10% reservation for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) of the upper castes in government jobs and higher education has been welcomed by many. But the question remains, will it eventually go through in light of the legal challenges that await this proposed amendment?
A 1992 Supreme Court ruling in the Indira Sawhney case held that reservation can’t be made based on financial status of the individual. Also, any attempts to increase the current 49.5% reservation would be a violation of the Fundamental Right to Equality mentioned in Article 14.
So what are the hurdles for the Modi Government in providing for a reservation for general category? And who really will stand to benefit from it? Well a reservation for general category in any form has been a long-standing demand by many, most notable being Mayawati and Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment RamdasAthawale. First & foremost, a 2/3rd majority will need to be secured from those present and voting. And also, atleast half of the state legislatures will need to accept the proposal.
Article 15 & 16 will also need to be modified which grants reservation powers only to the SCs, STs & OBCs. Over the years, several states have tried to give reservation to different communities and sections but have hit rough weather due to the 1992 ruling.
And who will constitute the EWS of the upper castes? All families currently not under any reserved category and earning an annual income of less than INR 8 lakh irrespective of religion will constitute the EWS. With that said, who wouldn’t be able to avail of this reservation? Families having an ownership of agricultural land in excess of 5 acres, a house of more than 1000 square feet in a notified municipal area or a house of 2000 square feet or more in a non-notified municipal area will be excluded from the EWS category.