Reservation for economically weaker sections
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This article is penned by Sarthak Gupta, a law student, Institute of Law, Nirma University. This article is a portraiture of the exordium of the Reservation for Economically Weaker Section in India and its interpretation of implementation.


The Constitution 103rd Amendment Act, 2019 allows for a reservation of 10% for the Economically Weaker Sections (Economically Weaker Sections) in jobs and seats in the institution of Higher Education within the general category. Inadequacy is one of the means to discriminate against people in India. The constitution of India just after independence introduced the principle of reservation for Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe, as a transport vehicle of acknowledging the colonial discrimination imposed in these people. The implementation was done under the principle of providing greater exposure to services and opportunities. The father of the constitution of India, Dr. B R Ambedkar had a larger significance to enhance the principle of the republic, sovereignty, fraternity among citizens.

After the introduction of reservation for scheduled tribes, scheduled caste, and other backward classes, a debate overflowed on reservations, to make a distinction between backward caste and backward classes. The arguments involved advocacy of reservation solely on the basis of economic criteria doesn’t stand in Constitutional Sanction. Many questions were raised about the general category of people being in abject poverty. The outcome of the debate turned out to be in the Parliament to Provide reservation for Economically Weaker Sections among the general category candidates.

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Economically Weaker Sections in India is categorized as a subcategory of individuals who belong to the General Category having an annual family income less than 8 lakhs, and who don’t belong with any other classified caste-like Schedule Tribes, Schedule Caste, and other backward classes. The terms Economically Weaker Sections and Economically Backward Class seem to be similar but are distinctive in the definition. Economically Weaker Sections is a term used to allude to those citizens or families with income below a certain threshold level. Although there could be other economic vulnerability, income is the primary criteria. In public policy, the terminology must be acknowledged in relation to the preamble of the Constitution of India, which seeks Justice-social, economic and political.

The categorization of Economically Weaker Sections is distinct from the previously defined categories like unprivileged sections, which allude to those who fall under Schedule Tribes, Schedule Caste, and other backward classes who might be having a drawback attributable to social, culture, linguistic, gender, and other such different components. The meaning of the Economically Weaker Sections terminology may include those categorized as Below Poverty Line. There is no simple/exceptional definition of Economically Weaker Sections in India. It is characterized distinctively for various plans run by the government.

Enactment of 103rd constitutional amendment 2019, economically weaker section for general category

The framers of the Constitution of India, long back in 1949 believed in the principle of reservation, to eliminate societal discrimination. Article 334 of the Indian Constitution, was titled on 26 November 1949, as “Reservation of seats and special representation to cease after twenty years”. Later the reservation period exceeds through different amendments. At present Part XVI of the Constitution deals with reservation of Schedule Tribes and Schedule Caste, in both Centre and State legislatures. Article 15 and Article 16 of the constitution enshrine the authority of the state and central Governments for reservation in Government services for the categorized group of Schedule Tribes and Schedule Caste.

The Union Cabinet Ministry in January 2019, approved 10% reservation in government educational institutions and public services specifically for the Economically Weaker Section in the category of general. The cabinet decided that this reservation would be over and above the 50% existing reservation. The president, Ram Nath Kovind, cleared the economically weaker section for the general category reservation bill on 7th January 2019. The bill was passed by both the house and later approved by the president, was released in a gazette which became into law, the first state to implement this reservation was Gujarat.

However, an NGO ‘Youth for Equality’ has contested and challenged the legislation in the Apex Court on the arguments that it violates the cap of 50 percent quotas fixed by the Supreme Court of India, arguing that it completely supports the reservations of the Economically Weaker sector but requires it to be balanced with the 27 percent OBC quota, thereby not infringing on the 50 percent limit set by the Economic Weaker Section. On 25 January 2019, the Supreme Court declined to stay the 10% quota given to the economically weaker section for the general category in government jobs and educational institutions.

Need for reservation

After understanding the definition of reservation, the first thought that comes up is, do we actually need a reservation which is solely based on the economic conditions of an individual in India? The constitution of India acknowledges its citizens in fundamental rights, to ensure equality of status and opportunities. The criticism that hangs with reservation is that implementation of such policies creates permanent fissures in the society, damaging the case of creditableness. These policies are against the philosophy of essence and spirit of liberalism building a wall of discrimination for a free individual. But the sole purpose of the introduction of reservation was to uplift the backward section of the society, to develop skills among the unprivileged population, specifically in education and employment, to make them more active and contributing together. 

The concept of reservation is for social upliftment and it is a hammer tool that is formulated against oppression and injustice against some classes and sections. Introduction of the reservations is necessary to address the systematic inequality faced by the country’s backward castes, To provide a level playing field for the economically weaker section as they can not compete with those who for centuries have had access to resources and means. And to ensure appropriate representation of economically weaker sections in state-run services, and In order to ensure equality as a basis for meritocracy, i.e. all people must be brought to the same level before they are judged on merit. 

Although, the economically weaker section doesn’t establish a homogeneous class and thus, a recognizable gathering making them qualified for reservation. Running from the jobless to the individuals who are underneath the neediness line and have a family pay of not as much as Rs. 800,000 per year – will all be viewed as Economically Weaker Sections. The reservation will be notwithstanding the current half reservation for the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs), and will take the all-out total reservation to 60%. The Amendment has crossed the half upper destined for reservations in India laid down by Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney vs. Association of India case (1992), in giving 10% reservation to the Economically Weaker Sections, and experiences a few legitimate lacunae that represent a danger to the fundamental structure of our Constitution.

Grounds of reservation

What makes you eligible for reservation in Economically Weaker Sections?, the grounds for the reservation in Economically Weaker Sections is not based on the question of whether you are below the margin of being economically weak or lies above the margin of economically weak, is it’s solely based on the income and assets of the household. 

  • To determine eligibility in Economically Weaker Sections, the Central Government has classified certain guidelines to, the 10% Economically Weaker Sections reservation quota is only and only available to general category students. 
  • All the individuals who don’t fall in the reservation of SC, ST, OBC, and whose annual gross income is below the rupees eight Lakhs, are to be identified as an applicant of the Economically Weaker Sections reservation.
  • The gross annual income which is subjected below the rupees eight Lakhs shall include sources like agriculture, business, profession, etc. for the financial year prior to the application year.
  • But, to be a successful applicant your family shouldn’t own or possess agricultural land, not more than 5 acres. And your family shouldn’t also own or possess a residential flat not more than 1000sq.ft. area.
  • With agricultural land and residential flats, the applicant family shouldn’t own or possess a residential plot not more than 100sq. yards area is notified municipalities and not more than 200sq.yards residential plot in areas other than notified municipalities. 
  • Lastly, the most important point to remember is that an individual shall not be entitled to a 10 percent reservation in government jobs and in higher education if she or he hails from a caste group that is already covered in existing schemes of reservation. This means that if an individual belongs to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes or other backward castes for which reservation has already been provided, she or he will not be eligible for reservation under this Economically Weaker Sections reservation scheme. This effectively means that if an individual belongs to a Scheduled Caste, she or he will only be able to apply for seats reserved in a college or university under the Schedule Tribes and Schedule Caste Reservation Act and not under the new reservation policy.

Exemption from reservation 

“Scientific and technical” items that satisfy all of the following conditions may, by ministries/departments, be exempted from the competence of reservation orders:

  1. The posts in Group A of the service concerned should be in grades above the lower grade.
  2. Scientific or technical occupations for which credentials are required in natural sciences or exact sciences or applied sciences or technology and for whom the expertise must be used in the performance of the duties should also be listed as Cabinet Secretary [OM No 85/11 / CF-61(1) date 28.12.1961].
  3. The posts should be “for research” or “for research about organization, guidance, and direction.”

Orders from the Minister concerned should be obtained before any positions fulfilling the above-mentioned condition are exempted from the scope of the reservation system.

Economically weaker section’s adoption by the central and state government before the 103rd constitutional amendment, 2019

Under Section 2 (e) of Right to Education Act, (The Right Of Children To Free And Compulsory Education Act, 2009) “a child belongs to weaker sections” signifies a young person having a place with such parent or guardian whose yearly pay is lower than as far as possibly indicated by the suitable Government. Central government ‘s Interest Subsidy for Housing the Urban Poor Scheme (ISHUP) which was introduced in 2009 for giving interest endowment on lodging to urban poor to make the lodging reasonable and inside the reimbursing limit of Economically Weaker Sections and Low-Income Groups (LIG). The plan urges poor areas to benefit from advanced offices through Commercial Banks/Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) for the reasons for the development of houses.

Prime Minister’s Awaaz Yojna, housing scheme propelled in 2015 with the point of giving Housing to all by 2022, Economically Weaker Sections family units are characterized as families having a yearly salary of up to Rs.3,00,000. States/UTs have the adaptability to rethink the yearly salary standards according to neighborhood conditions in discussion with the Center. Patients having a place with the Economically Weaker Sections are alluded to recognized private clinics in Delhi for being furnished with free treatment, especially when such medical clinics were set up ashore under concessional terms from the government. For the motivations behind this, Rs,8086/- is the monthly limit to be characterized in Economically Weaker Sections. Rajiv Rinn Yojana provides an interest subsidy of 5% (500 basis points) on loans granted to Economically Weaker Sections and LIG categories to construct their houses or extend the existing ones. Under the Rajiv Rinn Yojana, the Economically Weaker Sections are termed as households that have an average yearly income up to one lakh.

The long-standing demand for such a quota

In recent years, the influence of castes such as the Marathas, Rajputs, and Jats have hit the streets in search of reservation benefits, sometimes violently protesting. Even if governments in states have tried to impose laws in the past, court judges sometimes argue that the Supreme Court has set a cap of 50 percent on the quotas in the famous Indra Sawhney case. However, in November, the Bharatiya Janta Party Government in Maharashtra declared a 16% quota for “socially and educationally backward” of the politically powerful Marathas.

Amendments in the Indian Constitution with Economically Weaker Sections Reservation.

In Article 15 of the Constitution of India for reservation in an educational institution, after clause (5), the following clause shall be inserted Nothing in this article or sub-clause (g) of clause (1) of Article 19 or clause (2) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making,— any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clauses (4) and (5) in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of Article 30, which in the case of reservation would be in addition to the existing reservations and subject to a maximum of ten percent of the total seats in each category. In Article 16 of the Constitution of India for reservation in the job, after clause (5), the following clause shall be inserted, ”Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favor of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clause (4), in addition to the existing reservation and subject to a maximum of ten percent of the posts in each category.”

The legitimate escape clauses in the alteration identify with two focuses: The apex court has more than once expressed that economic criterion can’t be the sole ground for reservation and that it just gives more prominent access to the underrated classes and isn’t a neediness annihilation program. In any case, such Supreme Court choices stand addressed by the 103rd Constitutional Amendment, which gives legitimacy to the monetary model. The Supreme Court has reliably said that reservation ought not to invalidate the fundamental right to equality. Thus, the total reservations ought not to surpass 50%. Notwithstanding, this 50% principle has likewise been made ineffectual by the 103rd Constitutional Amendment. 

A Constitutional revision also can be struck somewhere around the Supreme Court on the off chance that it has an impact of pulverizing the ‘essential structure’ of the Constitution, which are acknowledged in the preamble of the constitution. A typical component that shapes the premise of reservation for SCs, STs, and OBCs under Article 46 of the Constitution is ‘social injustice and backwardness’. Since this is anything but a dominating component on account of Economically Weaker Sections, where neediness is the sole reason for the award of reservation, it doesn’t meet the trial of Article 46 of the constitution. The Supreme Court has more than once held that the principle explanation behind the creation of reservation in admission to the educational institutions under Articles 15(4) and 15(5) must be that a class, aside from being “socially backward”, must be “educationally backward”. So also, the convincing explanation behind creating the reservation in public services employment under Articles 16(4) and 16(4A), must be that the class, aside from being “backward” is “not adequately represented in the services under the State. The amended Article 15(6), accommodating reservation in the educational institution for Economically Weaker Sections, is quiet about the key state of educational backwardness. 

Likewise, in Article 16(6), embracing reservation in public services for Economically Weaker Sections, is furthermore quiet about the key state of “not adequately covered in the services under the State.” Lastly, the 103rd Constitutional Amendment violated the 50% reservation principle for absolute reservations in India laid down by the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney vs Association of India case (1992). Until now, this was the principal legal contention behind dismissing the interest for more deserving reservations from different sectors.

Is the reservation quota enough for economically weaker sections?

The proposed measures for pronouncing who is “economically weak” are indistinguishable from the one applied for characterizing the “creamy layer” among the other backward classes who are suspended from quota benefits. The measure which was scrutinized as “unnecessarily liberal” when implemented for characterizing who established the “creamy layer” among the Other Backward classes, will imply that nearly the whole populace with the exception of the wealthy who number around simply over a crore or something like that, cutting across networks, gets qualified for portions. The amount to acknowledge reservation quota being enough can only be understood if the reservation policies have been effectively organized. 

Effect of Economically Weaker Sections in the Higher educational institutions

As regards, its aftermath on the higher institutional, the 25% seat increment, without sufficient financing, will result in antagonistically influencing the nature of instruction and learning. The strategy has set off a discussion in scholarly circles over its hurried usage. As indicated by the information introduced by the Ministry for Human Resource Development in the Parliament, of the complete staff positions lying vacant. In the given situation with 33% of all encouraging posts lying vacant and extra seats having been authorized for Economically Weaker Sections students without a concurrent relating increment in the showing positions, the outcome would be an overburdening of the current workforce. 

According to a standard endorsed by the University Grants Commission (UGC), it is compulsory at the postgraduate level for colleges to have at any rate one professor for 10 understudies for the science stream and media and mass correspondence studies, and one instructor for every 15 students for the sociologies and trade streams. At the undergrad level, it endorses an assistant professor understudy proportion of 1:25 for the science stream and 1:30 for sociologies. 

Adding 25% more students to the Economically Weaker Sections quota would require a comparative increment in the number of professors. Actualizing the reservation involves immense consumption. It isn’t sure whether this cash will be distributed as an award in one go or will be given over some undefined time frame to higher instructive establishments by the administration. The colleges are likewise not satisfactory about whether they should take cash from the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) as an advance, in this way making an extra obligation on them or not. There are different bottlenecks concerning the foundation. Recipients of the booking for Economically Weaker Sections among students have needed to struggle to make sure about salary declarations from district authorities, which fill in as proof for profiting the quota advantage.

Drawbacks of reservation

The reservation for Economically Weaker Sections would influence the seat share open to all the classifications aside from the Economically Weaker Sections, despite any reservation category. Irrespective of the fact that the administration has expressed that the Economically Weaker Sections portion doesn’t interfere with the current reservations for SCs, STs, and OBCs, the legitimacy(merit) quota has been compressed. This is on the grounds that the Economically Weaker Sections portion is cut out of the current merit quota.

The general categorization or unreserved seats are not saved for the forward positions yet are available to all. Indeed, even the claimed ranks have an authority to compete for seats and posts under unreserved 50.5%. The forward standings can get practically those unreserved seats, yet something goes additionally to the oppressed caste, and progressively as there is instructive advancement among them, they will have the option to get a larger share of the 50.5%. Now that has been diminished to 40.5%, with the goal that the privilege of the SCs, STs, and OBCs will be impacted. Seats held for SCs, STs, and OBCs, for the most part, get filled in higher educational institutions, hence, offering to ascend to the possibility of SCs, STs, and OBCs going after the open process. Although, the unreserved seat share has fallen down due to the implementation of the Economically Weaker Sections quota.

With the reservation for Economically Weaker Sections becoming effective, on the off chance that one has a place with the unreserved category can contend just for 40.50% seats as 59.50% seats are reserved. So also, STs classified individuals can go after 48% seats (7.5% reservation quota seats and 40.5% legitimacy seats). On similar lines, SCs classified individuals can go after 55.5% seats(15% reservation quota seats and 40.5% legitimacy seats), while OBC classified individuals can target 67.5% seats (27% reservation quota seats and 40.5% legitimacy seats). Consequently, any individual who doesn’t have a place with the recently characterized Economically Weaker Sections measures (SC, ST, OBC, or general classification) will currently have 10% fewer employment opportunities to target. For instance, OBCs, who could have prior objective 77.5% seats (27% reserved and 50.5% general legitimacy) will currently observe their serious pool boiling down to 67.5%. Truth be told, the booking for Economically Weaker Sections is being viewed as a weakening of station-based reservations, and the start of the finish of the first justification of allowing reservation as a governmental policy regarding minorities in society against the social discrimination such as caste classification and untouchability.

The economic criteria are being given legitimacy as the sole rule for the arrangement of reservation. The Constitution imagined reservation as an instrument of evacuating the imbalance that was made by the prohibition of the SCs, STs, and OBCs in the organization, administration, and access to training by the station framework. Except for the economic factor, other factors were not taken into consideration such as poverty, unemployment. Economically Weaker Sections Reservation in state administrations prompted divisions and hostility among government representatives, vitiating the air in the working environment. Annihilation, not the propagation of position was the target of the reservation but economy based reservations just sustain the thought of standing in the society. 

The reservation was acquainted with the guarantee that the generally oppressed networks were given equivalent access to assets yet independent of the financial advancement they kept on remaining socially hindered. Reservation obliterates a sense of pride, to such an extent that opposition is no longer on to decide the best however the most in reverse. Reservations are the greatest adversary of meritocracy which is the establishment of numerous dynamic nations. It has turned into a device to meet thin political finishes through summoning class loyalties and early-stage characters. The predominant and exclusive class inside the regressive ranks has appropriated the advantages of reservation and the most underestimated inside the retrogressive standings have remained minimized. Reservation has become the system of avoidance as opposed to considering the same number of upper standing poor are additionally confronting separation and bad form which breeds disappointment in the general public.


After taking all the consideration into the account mentioned above, the output comes even though the government introduced reservation for Economically Weaker Sections to uplift the people who are economically poor, the legislation still remained to be challenging on account of various constitutional and judicial grounds. It antagonistically influences all the classifications with the exception of the Economically Weaker Sections by contracting the serious pool available to them. Observationally, it doesn’t appear to be legitimate as applicants from Economically Weaker Sections are as of now all around spoken to in higher education institutions. The introduction of reservation was implemented as an instrument to ensure equality & justice and to eliminate discrimination. It is this political propensity that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar cautioned earlier about the exploitation of the reservation policy. It would nullify the first point of conceding reservation as imagined by the establishing fathers of our constitution, that of revising the antagonistic impacts of the caste system.



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