‘No Stay’ on Implementation but; SC seeks Centre’s response on plea challenging 10% general quota bill

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Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to Centre on pleas challenging the constitutional amendment that gives 10 per cent reservation in jobs and education for economically weaker section of the general category. However, the top Court refused to stay implementation of 10 per cent reservation to the economically weaker section of general category. A bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi says “we will examine the issue.

The matter was heard by a Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, which proceeded to seek the response of the Union government.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi gave the Centre four weeks to respond on a batch of petitions that sought the quashing of the amendment on the grounds that economic criterion cannot be the sole basis for reservation.

Earlier on Jan 11, a day after the upper House of the Parliament, Rajya Sabha cleared the passage for the bill granting 10 per cent reservation to EWS of the general category, a petition challenging the bill filed in the Top Court. The Rajya Sabha on Jan 10 passed the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019. 10% general reservation for EWS bill gets Rajya Sabha approval too, step away to become law

The petition filed by the NGO, Youth for Equality, stated that amendment brought up by the government granting 10 per cent reservation to the upper castes violates several basic features of the constitution. The President of the NGO, [outfit opposing caste-based reservations] Kaushal Kant said, that ‘The amendment, which introduced Articles 15(6) and 16(6) into the Constitution, violates the equality code of the Constitution and was in “breach of the basic structure of the Constitution’. as reported by an English newspaper.

The Petition filed by the NGO pointed out that the Supreme Court in 2006, M. Nagaraj vs Union of India,  had made it clear that the reservation capping should not exceed 50 per cent reservation. The Existing reservation is breaching that set by the Apex Court.

The petition filed by the NGO pointed out the top court judgment of 1992 in the Indira Sawhney vs Union of India case, where a Constitution bench had specifically stated that economic criteria cannot be the sole basis for reservations under the Constitution. The petition also alleged that move is done to gain Political mileage before the Lok Sabha 2019 Polls.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaking in the Lok Sabha rejected suggestions that the measure may fall foul of a Supreme Court judgment putting a cap of 50 per cent and asserted that top Court has put a bar caste-based reservations, while the bill seeks quota for the economically weaker sections in the general category. The Bill was on January 9 passed by majority ‘ayes’ in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

Despite many Political Parties terming it as an electoral stunt, “political gimmick”, almost all backed the bill, which, in a first, extends reservation to upper castes. The Centre’s move is seen as an attempt to address grievances of the upper castes ahead of 2019 General Elections.

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