New Delhi, September 21
Describing the Constitution as a forward looking document, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said the state’s affirmative actions aimed at addressing inequality should not lead to fragmentation of society.
“All inequalities have to vanish… But we shouldn’t fragment society. This is our concern. Of course, the state will keep experimenting; we don’t have an issue with that… The question is: How does it (EWS quota law) fit in the scheme of the framework of equality?” a five-judge Constitution Bench led by CJI UU Lalit asked.
On the fifth day of hearing on petitions challenging the 10 per cent quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in government jobs and educational institutions under the 103rd constitutional amendment, the Centre asserted that it did not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.
Noting that a constitutional amendment can only be challenged if it destroyed the basic structure of the Constitution, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended that the ceiling of 50 per cent has not been held inviolable.
Senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani, representing the Madhya Pradesh Government, said the economic criterion for reservation has been held to be valid in Ashok Thakur’s case. “If reservation on the basis of economic criterion is constitutionally valid, EWS is also constitutionally valid,” he submitted.
During the hearing the CJI sought to know if in the case of OBCs above creamy layer, their share would get reduced.
The Bench, which also included Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, Justice S Ravindra Bhat, Justice Bela M Trivedi and Justice JB Pardiwala, would resume the hearing on Thursday.
Attorney General KK Venugopal had on Tuesday defended the EWS quota law, asserting that it did not violate the basic structure of the Constitution and did not disturb the 50 per cent existing quota meant for SCS, STs and OBCs. It has been given for the first time without eroding the “totally independent” reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs, he had submitted.
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