- The Union government has not conducted any survey nor is it considering a proposal to conduct one to identify the number of beneficiaries entitled to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) reservation, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said in response to a question from Sajda Ahmed of the Trinamool Congress in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
- While the Supreme Court, earlier this year, heard the constitutionality of the EWS reservation, the Union government orally told the Constitution Bench that it was relying on the data compiled in the NITI Aayog’s Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index to estimate that 18.2% of the general category population would fall under the EWS category, which would be about 3.5 crore.
- However, in the EWS judgment penned by Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, the court had held that the question of whether any particular classification as Economically Weaker Section is based on relevant data and factors and its extent “could be the matters of consideration as and when arising”.
- The Supreme Court Bench hearing the challenge to the income criterion for EWS reservation had also questioned the Union government over what data it had considered to arrive at the ₹8 lakh criterion for annual family income.
- The Bench had gone on to ask the government if it had lifted the income criterion from the OBC Creamy-Layer criterion directly, saying that would be unfair since those qualifying under the EWS category are not facing social and educational backwardness like OBCs.
- Interestingly, in response to another question, Social Justice Minister Pratima Bhoumik said that the Constitution did not give the mandate to prescribe different yardsticks for economic parity of two communities within the same country.
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB