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Constitutional Amendment to enable quota for upper castes challenged in SC

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Amendments to Article 15 and 16, passed by Parliament, aimed at introducing 10 per cent reservation for economically poor forward classes

A day after the Parliament passed the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill that would enable the Centre to carve out an additional 10 per cent quota in educational institutions and government jobs for the economically poor upper castes, a petition challenging the legislation has been filed in the Supreme Court.

The petition, filed by NGO Youth for Equality, has not yet been listed for admission but is possibly the first of many legal challenges that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan for granting reservations on the basis of economic backwardness is likely to face in the days to come.

The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8 and in the Rajya Sabha the following day after the Treasury and Opposition benches united in its support.

The passage of the Bill paves the way for Modi’s government to introduce a 10 per cent reservation, over the existing 49.5 per cent reserved for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes, for “the economically weaker sections of society in higher educational institutions, including private institutions” and in government jobs. The amendment seeks to negate the cap of 50 per cent on reservations that was set by the Supreme Court through various judgments, most notably in the Indra Sawhney case, and also the constitutional and legal obligation of not providing reservations purely on the basis of one’s economic backwardness.

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