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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

SC upholds reservation on economic ground


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New Delhi: The Supreme Court, in a majority 3:2, on Monday upheld the reservation on economic basis and said it does not violate the essential features of the Constitution.

The three judges who ruled in favour are Justices Dinesh Maheshwari, Bela M Trivedi and J B Pardiwala.

Chief Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice S Ravindra Bhat gave the dissenting judgement.

“EWS amendment does not violate the basic structure as it is based in economic criteria. The state forming special provision for EWS quota does not violate the basic structure. Reservation is an instrument of affirmative action so as to ensure all-inclusive march towards goals of egalitarian society,” Justice Maheshwari said.

“It is a means of inclusion of any class or section so disadvantaged. Reservation on economic basis does not violate basic structure of the Constitution,” he said.

Justice Trivedi concurred with Justice Maheshwari and said that EWS quota was an essential feature of the Constitution.

“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 reservation.

“It cannot be said that the age old caste system in India led to introduction of reservations and so that SC.ST get level playing field. At end of 75 years we need to take a re-look at reservations in general in spirit of transformative constitutionalism,” Justice Trivedi ruled.

Justice J B Pardiwala said that reservation was not an end but a means to secure social and economic justice.

“It must not be allowed to become vested interest. Reservation should not continue for indefinite period of time so as to become vested interested,” he said.

Dissenting, Justice Bhat said: “The amendment practices constitutionally prohibited discrimination. Strikes at the heart of the equality code. Allowing breach of the 50 per cent cap set on reservation can lead to further infractions which can result in compartmentalisation.”

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