The Supreme Court was informed on Thursday that the Central Government has decided to reconsider the Rupees 8 lakh annual income ceiling for identifying the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and will make a new decision within four weeks. The Centre further stated that NEET admissions counselling will be postponed for another four weeks until a new decision on EWS criterion is made. The solicitor general's remarks came after the Supreme Court was grilled repeatedly over the last two months about the mechanism used by the Centre to set the EWS income requirement uniformly across the country. In light of the Supreme Court's decision, this submission was made. The EWS criteria had come up in the context of their inclusion in the NEET (All India Quota), which had previously been put on hold while a final verdict on a petition contesting the quota rules was awaited.
In India, the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) is a subset of people who fall into the Economy Based Category and have an annual family income of less than Rs. 8 lakhs but do not fit into any of the other categories. The Union Council of Ministers adopted a 10% reservation for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in government employment and educational institutions in the General category on January 7, 2019. The cabinet agreed that this would be in addition to the existing 50% reserve for SC, ST, and OBC groups.
The court was hearing a batch of petitions filed by MBBS doctors challenging the Centre's decision to adopt a 27% reservation for OBCs and a 10% reservation for EWS in admission to PG courses in medical institutes under the All-India Quota system. When the case was heard in court in October, the Supreme Court expressed displeasure with the Centre for failing to adequately explain the basis for setting an income limit of Rs 8 lakh for granting reservation to EWS, and ordered it to file an affidavit disclosing whether any exercise had been conducted and what the rationale behind the decision was.
The court questioned how an amount of Rs 8 lakh could be set for both EWS and OBC categories in order to qualify for reservation. It was stated that the OBC category has social and educational backwardness and that this backwardness is believed to end with economic growth. It had said that the EWS category was distinct since there was no constitutional requirement for social and educational backwardness and that setting the same income cap for both categories seemed illogical.
Solicitor general (SG) Tushar Mehta told a Supreme Court bench led by Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud about the government's decision, claiming that the government would examine the yearly income threshold by forming a committee. The bench noted the SG's assertion that the exercise of assessing the EWS criteria would take four weeks, and that, until its conclusion, the deadline for medical admissions counselling for the current academic year would be postponed. The next hearing date has been set for January 6th.
“This Article Does Not Intend To Hurt The Sentiments Of Any Individual Community, Sect, Or Religion Etcetera. This Article Is Based Purely On The Author's Personal Views And Opinions In The Exercise Of The Fundamental Right Guaranteed Under Article 19(1)(A) And Other Related Laws Being in force In India, For The Time Being. Further, despite all efforts that have been made to ensure the accuracy and correctness of the information published, Lawsisto Private Limited shall not be responsible for any errors caused due to human error or otherwise.”