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Revisiting EWS criteria

Date: 30 November 2021 Tags: Bills & Laws

Issue

The Central government has decided to revisit the criteria set for the reservation under Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).

 

Background

Currently, there is 10% reservation under EWS category. A family income ceiling of Rs 8 lakh is currently set for eligibility.

 

Details

The commitment from the government came after the Supreme Court asked it to present the studies undertaken before arriving at the current figure.

 

Introduction of EWS

  • The 103rd Constitution Amendment was passed by the Parliament in 2019 for 10% reservation under EWS category.

  • A Clause (6) was added to Article 15 to give powers to the government to give special provisions for EWS among citizens who are not covered under any other reservations.

  • The reservation applies for private and public educational institutions except those run by minority groups.

  • A Clause (6) was added to Article 16 to give reservation in employment. It will be in addition to existing reservations.

 

Previous efforts

Previously, when an effort was made to introduce reservations for poorer groups among general category, the Supreme Court had stuck it down citing lack of constitutional provisions.

 

Existing criteria for EWS

  • Families whose total income is above Rs 8 lakh per annum will not be given reservation.

  • Other excluding criteria include five or more acres of agriculture land, residential flat of 1,000 sq ft and above, residential plot of 100 square yards.

 

Court’s opinion

  • The income ceiling of Rs 8 lakh is the same figure for excluding creamy layer from OBC reservation benefits.

  • The court feels that both OBC and EWS cannot be judged on the same criteria as OBCs have additional impediments to overcome.

  • The court has also enquired if a suitable study was carried out to find purchasing power in rural and urban areas, per capital GDP and other instances like differentiating between flat in metropolitan and non-metropolitan area.

 

Concerns expressed

EWS category reduces the size of open category and hampers merit. It also breaches the 50% ceiling imposed by Supreme Court.