Economic backwardness not mentioned in constitution: K’taka LoP

8 November, 2022 | Vaishali Sharma

Siddaramaiah Top News

Addressing the media persons in Belagavi on Monday, LoP Siddaramaiah said: "The Constitution states that reservation should be provided on the grounds of social and educational backwardness. There ...

Siddaramaiah, a former chief minister and leader of the opposition (LoP), commented on the Supreme Court’s 3:2 split decision in the Constitutions 103rd Amendment Act of 2019, which establishes 10% reservations for members of the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in higher education and addresses issues with public employment.

Addressing the media persons in Belagavi on Monday, LoP Siddaramaiah said: “The Constitution states that reservation should be provided on the grounds of social and educational backwardness. There is no mention of economic backwardness for reservation.” A five-judge Constitution bench of the top court in a 3:2 majority verdict on Monday held that the amendment’s provisions do not violate essential features of the Constitution.

Chief Justice of India UU Lalit and S Ravindra Bhat dissented from the majority verdict and struck down the 103rd Amendment Act.

“I have concurred with the view taken by Justice Bhat. The decision stands at 3:2,” said CJI Lalit while pronouncing his verdict in the last.

Majority bench – Justices Dinesh Maheshwari, Bela Trivedi and JB Pardiwala upheld the EWS Amendment saying the EWS quota does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.

While reading the judgement, Justice Maheshwari said, “The EWS amendment does not violate the equality code or the essential features of the Constitution.”

He said reservation is an instrument of affirmative action so as to ensure an all-inclusive march towards the goals of an egalitarian society.

Justice Bela M Trivedi said her judgment is in concurrence with Justice Maheshwari and that the EWS quota in the general category is valid and constitutional.

She said, “The amendment as a separate class is a reasonable classification. Legislature understands the needs of people and it is aware of the economic exclusion of people from the reservation.”

Justice JB Pardiwala in his separate but concurring judgement with Justices Maheshwari and Trivedi upheld the Act and said that reservation should not continue for an indefinite time.

He said. “The ones who have moved ahead should be removed from backward classes so that ones in need can be helped. The ways to determine backward classes need a re-look so that ways are relevant in today’s time. Reservation should not continue for an indefinite time so that it becomes a vested interest.”

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Bhat knocked down the 103rd Amendment, arguing that while economic-based reservations are acceptable, excluding SC/STs and other backward classes from EWS is not acceptable and constitutes discrimination against those groups.

A group of petitions contesting the Amendment on the grounds that economic categorization cannot be the exclusive basis for reservation were submitted by the NGOs Janhit Abhiyan and Youth for Equality, among others. The Constitution bench’s decision was based on these petitions.

Attorneys for the petitioners claimed during the hearing that the 103rd Amendment’s quota for higher castes violated the Indian Constitution’s fundamental principles.

The petitioners’ attorneys argued that the quota on the basis of economics alone is illegal.