The Supreme Court began hearing the petitions filed against the validity of 103rd Constitution Amendment which provides for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions to economically weaker sections (EWS), on Tuesday (13 September).
A five-judge constitution bench compromising of Chief Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justices Dinesh Maheshwari, S Ravindra Bhat, Bela M Trivedi and JB Pardiwala are hearing the case.
The Attorney General for India, KK Venugopal, maintained that the 50 per cent cap on reservation is not ‘sacrosanct’ and defended the 10 per cent reservation provided on the basis of economic grounds.
Advocate Mohan Gopal, argued that the law is a tool for financial upliftment of the ‘forward classes’.
He submitted that as the EWS quota excludes socially and educationally backward classes, it is violating the principles of equality and justices and therefore infringing the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.
He argued that the 103rd Amendment should be seen as an ‘assault’ on the Constitution.
Adding further to his argument, Gopal argued that he’s only interested in representation and if there’s any way through which representation can be secured, he won’t need reservation anymore.
He said that through the EWS reservation, the government is essentially excluding a person from the benefits of reservation just because the person is from a ‘lower caste’.
He said that denying equal opportunities to backward classes will change the identity of the Indian Constitution and it will become an instrument to ‘protect privileges’.
Following, Mohan Gopal, senior advocates Meenakshi Arora and Sanjay Parikh also made their submission.
The crux of their argument, similar to that of Gopal was that the very idea of EWS reservations stems from a foul understanding of reservation which is based on the concept of stigmatisation and marginalisation.
The five judge bench will continue the hearing on the validity of EWS reservation daily. Around a week ago, the bench had framed major issues which are to be discussed while determining the validity of EWS reservation. This includes:
whether 103rd Constitutional Amendment is violating the basic structure of the Constitution by permitting states to make special provisions for reservation based on economic criteria;
and whether 103rd Amendment is violating the basic structure in excluding the socially and educationally backward classes.
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