The Supreme Court Tests the EWS Criteria

A number of petitions contesting EWS and OBC reservation in the NEET-All India Quota are currently being heard by the Supreme Court.

The Centre is being questioned by a bench made up of Justices DY Chandrachud, Vikram Nath, and BV Nagarathna on the yearly income requirement of Rupees 8 lakhs used to determine the EWS cut-off.

The order is as follows:

“When the proceedings were resumed on October 7, 2021, the Union was given the option to file an affidavit setting forth the basis for adopting the 8 lakh limit for determining EWS Category.” The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as well as the Ministry of Social Justice and the Department of Public Transportation, have all been ordered to be impeached. ASG has requested that affidavits be filed on his behalf.

The following are the problems that need to be addressed:

  1. Did the Centre conduct a study before deciding on the Rs 8 lakhs EWS threshold?
  • Is the criteria based on the Sinho commission report if the answer is yes, and if so, place the report on record in this court?
  • The income threshold for identifying creamy layer in OBC and EWS is the same, at Rs. 8 lakhs. While the economically advanced are excluded in OBC to reduce social backwardness, it is done in EWS to include all categories. As a result, the OBC income criterion is based on exclusion while the EWS income criterion is based on inclusion. It would be unreasonable to apply the same income restriction to EWS and OBC in this situation.
  • Has the difference in purchasing power between rural and urban areas been taken into account when determining this limit?
  • What criteria were used to come up with the asset exception, and has any exercise been conducted in this regard?

While we allow Liberty Center to present the whole evidence to us, the court must be informed as to how the EWS income threshold was determined.

The nature of the exercise carried out in compliance with Article 15 would have to be disclosed to the court (2). We make it plain that we are not entering a policy area, but that the disclosure is required in order to comply with constitutional standards.”

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