Madras HC issues notice to Centre on DMK's plea against 10% quota for economically-backward classes

The Madras High Court issued notice to the Central government on Monday to reply before 18 February on plea against the 10 percent reservation for economically weaker section in the general category.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) organising secretary RS Bharathi had on Friday filed a writ plea in the high court challenging the recent constitutional amendment for 10 percent reservation.

In his plea, the DMK leader had said the reservation "offends" the basic structure of the Constitution.

The DMK claimed in its plea that reservation is not a poverty alleviation programme but is more in the nature of social justice to uplift communities that have not had access to education or employment for centuries.

Madras HC issues notice to Centre on DMKs plea against 10% quota for economically-backward classes

File photo of Madras High Court. Wikimedia Commons

"Therefore, essentially, the exception to the equality clause is only available to those communities which were ostracised for centuries in matters of education and employment. Economic criteria has been, however, used as a filter to exclude the creamy layer, persons belong to the backward classes but who are economically advanced," Bharathi said in the petition.

"Hence, application of economic criteria solely is not contemplated as an exception to the rule of equality and consequently to provide reservation solely on economic criteria offends the basic structure of the Constitution," he added.

The petitioner said, "It is well settled that the ceiling limit of 50 percent in reservation is also part of the basic structure and has been asserted by the Supreme Court in several cases.

"However, in Tamil Nadu, the ceiling limit is 69 percent due to the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of appointments or posts in the Services under the State) Act, 1993 which is placed in the IX Schedule," he further submitted. Legislations placed in the IX Schedule of the Constitution cannot be legally challenged.

Hence, reservation cannot be beyond 69 percent in the state. However, the recent amendments enable reservation to go up to 79 percent and this is "unconstitutional", he said.

The Lok Sabha on 8 January passed the bill to grant 10 percent reservation in education and government jobs to economically-weaker individuals belonging to the general category, across religions.

The DMK had voted against the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 demanding that it should be sent to a select committee for further scrutiny.

The reservation is meant for economically-weaker individuals whose family income is below Rs 8 lakh per annum and who possess less than 5 acres of agriculture land.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jan 21, 2019 12:51:52 IST

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