IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

EWS quota challenge referred to Constitution Bench

6th August, 2020 Polity

Context: The Supreme Court referred to a five-judge bench the “substantial question of law”, whether grant of 10% reservation to economically weaker sections of the society is unconstitutional and violates the 50% ceiling cap on quota declared by the court itself.


  • The economic reservation was introduced in the Constitution by amending Articles 15 and 16 and adding clauses empowering the State governments to provide reservation on the basis of economic backwardness.
  • Several petitions led by Janhit Abhiyan had challenged the validity of the Constitutional Amendment, saying the 50% quota limit was part of the Basic Structure of the Constitution.
  • The three-judge Bench had refused to stay the implementation of the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act, which provides the 10% quota, when it had reserved orders a year ago.
  • The primary question for the Constitution Bench to decide is whether “economic backwardness” can be the sole criterion for granting quota in government jobs and educational institutions for those who would otherwise have to compete in the general category.

State’s Prerogative:

  • The Centre had argued that it was every State’s prerogative to provide 10% economic reservation in State government jobs and admissions in State-run education institutions.
  • Whether or not to provide reservation to the economically weaker section (EWS) of the society for appointment in State government jobs and for admission to State government educational institutions, as per provisions of the newly inserted Articles 15(6) and 16(6) of the Constitution, is to be decided by the State government concerned.