New Delhi, September 22
Describing caste discrimination as a sort of permanent disadvantage, the Supreme Court on Thursday said the same can’t be said about poverty among people belonging to the general category.
Questions under consideration
1 Whether 103rd Constitution amendment Act can be said to breach basic structure of the Constitution by permitting the state to make special provisions, including reservation, based on economic criteria
2 Whether constitutional amendment could be said to breach the basic structure by permitting the state to make special provisions concerning admissions to private unaided institutions
3 Whether it can be said to breach the basic structure of the Constitution in excluding the SEBCs/OBCs, SCs/STs from scope of EWS reservation
On the sixth 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, a five-judge Constitution Bench led by CJI UU Lalit said caste discrimination was something that travelled from generation to generation due to birth, but it was not the same with poverty.
Noting that there was no anthropological study to show that poverty had been there in families of non-reserved category from generation to generation, the Bench said, "Something which is temporary in nature cannot be called to be permanent. Being born in a Scheduled Caste family is a matter of stigma, which travels generations.” Describing reservation as a tool for social upliftment, the Bench, which also included Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, Justice S Ravindra Bhat, Justice Bela M Trivedi and Justice JB Pardiwala, said was not meant for financial empowerment of individuals in any social group. “Reservation as a traditional concept is not for financial empowerment, it is for social empowerment, it is not just to improvise the economic lot or status,” said the Bench.
On behalf of EWS students, senior counsel Vibha Dutta Makhija submitted that quota on account of stark poverty was a right under Article 21 of the Constitution. "Does the Constitution want to restrict reservation only to castes? I don't think so… the founding fathers would want to expand it,” she argued.
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