A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the constitution amendment bill that reserves 10 per cent quota for poorer sections in the general category. A petition filed by a group, Youth for Equality and Dr Kaushal Kant Mishra, said the amendment violates the 50 per cent ceiling that had been laid down by the Supreme Court.
The petition says each of the four provisions that are being introduced in the Constitution violate one or the other basic feature and should not be allowed. A 13-judge Constitution Bench of the top court in 1973 had propounded the “basic structure” doctrine, holding that Parliament can amend the Constitution but not alter its basic or essential features.
According to the petition, the four key features of the bill had provided for reservations for any economically weaker sections of citizens other than SCs/STs and Other Backward Classes. According to the amendment, private educational institutions would also have to set aside 10 per cent seats to be given to the poorer sections.
The petition argued that the bill could not reserve seats only for poorer sections from the general category but should have included all communities.
The constitution amendment bill, which was pushed through Parliament within the last two days, was widely supported by political parties but there had been demands that the government should let a parliamentary panel take a closer, harder look at the changes.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, soon after Parliament cleared the bill, had described it as a “tribute to the makers of the constitution and freedom fighters”.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and others had, however, insisted that the Supreme Court’s 50 per cent cap on reservations would only apply to seats reserved on the basis of the aspirants’ caste or community, not economic status.
The opposition, for one, wasn’t entirely convinced.
Former union minister Kapil Sibal, who spoke about what he described as fundamental flaws in the bill, asked the government to name the law officer who had cleared the amendment. Some opposition leaders also insisted that the government knew all along that the bill couldn’t withstand judicial scrutiny and was a ploy to claim credit for its passage ahead of the Lok Sabha elections a few months down the line.