DMK seeks review of SC verdict upholding 10% quota for economically weaker sections

The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu has moved the Supreme Court seeking review of the apex court’s recent judgment upholding 103rd amendment to the Constitution, which introduced 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) among the unreserved categories in admissions and government jobs.

The plea said the majority opinion of the five-judge Constitution Bench — the court had upheld the majority in a 3:1 decision — “is contradictory”.

“After going in depth into how poverty prevents access to education and employment, and the importance of alleviating the same, the majority judges have not given any justification for excluding ST, SC & OBCs from the EWS reservation other than to say that they have already been given reservations under Art 15(4) & 16(4),” the petition stated. “This error is apparent on the face of the record since the reservations under Art 15(4) & 16(4) are on the basis of social backwardness and historic oppression”.

The party said, “if the majority accepts that there can be a separate classification on economic criteria, social backwardness cannot be used as an exclusion for the poor among ST, SC & OBCs merely because they suffer both backwardness. This judgment, if allowed to stand, conveys a strong message that the SC, ST & OBCs, [who have faced] oppression for several hundred years, who have been prevented from having jobs and education and who have been kept away from the mainstream, suffer from disqualification from getting economic reservations.”

The November 7 judgment, the party maintained, “directly overrules” the judgment by the nine-judge Constitution Bench in Indra Sawhney v Union of India (Mandal commission case), “which has authoritatively pronounced that reservations can’t be on basis of economic criteria”.

The plea said the impugned judgment “legitimises discrimination by opining that exclusion is vital for achieving the desired results” for a particular target group.

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