A system has been built to help a section of society that needs support in the field of education, job opportunities, scholarship, and politics termed as Reservation. Various Steps have been taken by the Government of India in the context of the betterment of society. Reservation is an approach that would help promote equal access to resources and facilitate society’s development and advancement. Politically, Economically and Socially, Reservation is the need of the hour. To overcome the prevailing issue of economic disparity, the Economic Weaker Section (EWS) of the society has been provided with the Reservation Policy and has been successfully implemented. To support this fact, various case laws have judgement in the same context.
Definition of Reservation:
Reservation is a way through which backward class and underprivileged sections of society get the benefit of reserving a certain number of seats in government institutions.
Why is Reservation needed?
Reservation in India was introduced for the following purposes:
- Level playing field– In India, the reservation was introduced to give equal treatment to all sections of society. Under reservation, every caste is treated in a manner that everyone gets equal and fair opportunities and privileges.
- Advancement- The main purpose of providing reservation was to socially advance the backward classes of people. It was very important to do this so they could compete well with the general category.
- Reservation Quota in India as of now: In India, there is a certain percentage reservation quota for the different categories: SCs have 15%, STs have 7.5%, OBCs have 27%, EWS have 10% and PWDs have 4 % respectively.
EWS Reservation and its Background:
What is EWS Reservation?
EWS Reservation is a kind of reservation for those who are economically backward and do not fall under any reservation categories already existing in the Indian legal system.
Background of Reservation:
Pre- Independence era:
In the year 1882, the concept of reservation was introduced. The existence of the caste system, atrocities against the lower caste people and untouchability in Indian Society led to the introduction of this reservation policy. The caste-based discrimination prevalent today in India was introduced in the year 1933.
During the year 1947, when we got the independence from British Raj, Indian society was facing a major hurdle of caste discrimination during that time which was a major hindrance to growth. The reservation policy was introduced in the same context to overcome the challenges.
There are many provisions mentioned in the constitution for the advancement of the weaker sections:
Articles 15(4) and 16(4): This ensures that State is free to make any kind of reservation for the progress and development of the backward sections of the society in terms of social and educational aspects. A fixed proportion of seats in government services is reserved for SCs and STs.
Reservation in Educational Institutions:
Ninety-Third Constitutional Amendment act 2005– With the ratification of this act, the government inserted Article 15(5) in the Indian Constitution.
Article 15(5)- It entitles admitting citizens who belong to the backward section of society to the educational establishment irrespective it is private, government or aided/non aided except the minority educational establishment.
Taking the case of, Ashoka Kumar Thakur v Union of India – The Ninety-third constitutional amendment act, 2005 was questioned on the basis that the Union of India was not able to perform its duties towards the citizens in terms of legal and constitutional regard. The constitutional guarantee of equality and equal opportunity shall be seriously prejudicated.
Reservation in the promotional Arena:
In the matter of promotion in public employment, concerning the landmark case, Indra Sawhney v Union of India,1992, It was held under Article 16(4) by Apex Court that there shall be no reservation in the promotional arena.
Article 16(4A) of the Indian Constitution states:
The state cannot be put to stop forming any kind of reservation for promotion for the people belonging to SCs and STs castes who have not appropriately appeared under the services provided by the state.
Reservation for EWS: 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2019 allows 10 per cent reservation for those who are not economically sound. Before this Act, the reservation was restricted to the limit of 50 per cent. On the contrary, the current scenario depicts opposite statistics., the reservation reached the level of 60 per cent instead of 50 per cent after the enactment of the EWS reservation.
In the case, Indra Sawhney v Union of India– The judgement by the court says that the limit of the reservation should not exceed 50 per cent.
The Supreme Court upholds a 10% reservation for EWS in the 3:2 verdict. The Three Judges declared that under the Indra Sawhney case (1992), the basic structure of the Constitution was not breached by the EWS quota. But the other two judges dissented from it and said that the law was discriminatory and infringes on the basic structure of the constitution.
Significance of EWS Reservation:
It Addresses Inequality: It talks about the matter of disparity of income and education in India due to financial stress among some sections of the society which are economically weaker and remains out of reach from getting a higher education and public employment.
Acknowledgement of Economically Backward Sections: This reservation gives constitutional acknowledgement to the citizens from the upper caste who are poor and allows them to compete equally well with the other people who are getting the benefits of reservation.
Scaling down discrimination based on caste: It will slowly withdraw the dishonour related to the reservation because, in history, reservation has been related to caste. Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar in his book Annihilation of caste mentioned about reduction of caste discrimination and worked for the depressed section of society.
Non–Availability of data- The main object of the bill is being defeated here. The EWS bill mentions that the citizens of EWS are deprived of employment and higher education. But the non-availability of information results in a wild guess.
Breaches Reservation Cap– This EWS quota breaches the limit of 50% as prescribed by the Indra Sawhney Case, 1992
Tyrannical criteria– The benchmark used by the government to determine the acceptability for the reservation are indistinct and are not related to any factual data.
In my opinion, reservations should be given based on economic necessities and not based on social differences. There are many instances wherein we will be able to find people with a low economic background in the upper caste section of society and not provided with reservation in any of the facilities by the government. To overcome such scenarios, the reservation should be given to the needy despite the caste they belong to.
Author(s) Name: Jigyasa Singh (Chaudhary Charan Singh University)