New Delhi: A day after being passed by the Rajya Sabha with an almost complete consensus, the bill to provide 10 per cent reservation to general category poor in jobs and education has now being challenged in the Supreme Court.
Youth For Equality organisation and Kaushal Kant Mishra filed a plea in the top court on Thursday seeking quashing of the bill saying that the economic criterion cannot be the sole basis for reservation.
The plea said the bill violates basic feature of the Constitution as reservation on economic grounds cannot be limited to the general categories and the 50 per cent ceiling limit cannot be breached.
The Rajya Sabha passed it with 165 voting in its favour and 7 against on Wednesday, a day after the Lok Sabha had approved The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019.
The Bill was approved after the House rejected five amendments moved by Opposition members.
The Bill seeks to amend Article 15 of the Constitution, by adding a clause which allows states to make “special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens”.
These “special provisions” would relate to “their admission to educational institutions, including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the state, other than the minority educational institutions”.
It also makes it clear that reservation would be “in addition to the existing reservations and subject to a maximum of ten per cent of the total seats in each category”.
The Bill has fixed an annual income of less than Rs 8 lakh and not owning more than five acres of agricultural land as criteria for defining economically weaker section in the general category for availing of the reservation in educational institutions as well as government jobs.
It does not provide for quota for those owning a flat of 1000 square feet or more, land of 100 sq yards in notified municipality area and 200 yards in non-notified area.
In a 1992 order, the Supreme Court had capped reservations in government jobs and education at 50 per cent. But in an order in July 2010, it allowed states to exceed that limit if they had solid scientific data to justify the increase.
The apex court has also asserted that the Constitution makes no case for quota on economic ground and only talks of educational and social backwardness besides those for the SCs and STs.