The 103rd Constitutional Amendment extended the 10% reservation in direct government recruitment and admission to higher educational institutions to “economically inferior” parts of all castes and communities, including Christians and Muslims, who were previously ineligible under existing quotas.
Economically Weaker Section (EWS) is defined in the proposed amendment bill as a person who:
A household’s annual income is less than Rs 8 lakh.
Land for agriculture that is less than 5 acres.
A house with a floor area of less than 1000 square feet is considered a residential property.
In a notified municipality, a residential plot of less than 100 yards is permitted.
In an area where the municipality has not been notified, a residential plot of less than 200 yards is permitted.
What would be required for the quota to be implemented:
Articles 15 (prohibition of discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth) and 16 (equality of opportunity in public employment) of the Constitution will need to be amended.
The amendment must be ratified by at least two-thirds of members present and voting in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, as well as by the legislatures of at least half of the states.
The 10% allocation would be added to the existing reservation cap of 50% for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes, bringing the total reservation to 60%.
The quota is aimed at the lower castes’ poor.
This is in addition to the Constitution’s obligation of 50%, necessitating the necessity for a Constitutional Amendment Bill.
Indira Sawhney’s case before the Supreme Court:
In the Indira Sawhney case of 1992, a nine-judge Supreme Court Constitution Bench particularly examined the question of “whether backward classes can be recognized entirely and exclusively with reference to the economic criterion.”
In its ruling, the court proclaimed a 50% quota to be the rule unless unusual circumstances “inherent in the great diversity of this country and its people” occur.
Even at that time, the court said that considerable caution should be used and that a unique case should be made.