SC refuses to consider plea of no-debate in Parliament as ground to challenge EWS quota

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to entertain a submission about Parliament having cleared the 103rd constitutional amendment to provide 10 per cent quota to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) without much debate, saying it was “barred from entering into that arena”.

The top court, while hearing a batch of pleas challenging the Centre’s decision to grant reservation to the EWS in education and government jobs, reaffirmed that providing for economic criteria to ensure the benefit of government policies reach the target group is not “proscribed” but a “recognised” basis of classification.

“The Constitution is an organic and transformative document. We see generations of poverty. We see the below poverty line (BPL) groups as well. These are a large mass of people. Why cannot there be an economic based affirmative action (by the State)…,” a five judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said.

Senior lawyer K S Chauhan, appearing for one of the petitioners, referred to the speeches of former CJI N V Ramana to drive home the point that legislations are being passed in Parliament without much debate.

“We are a democracy and democracy is based on deliberations. This constitutional amendment bill was passed in Lok Sabha on January 8 and in Rajya Sabha on January 9. I could not find any debate on this,” the lawyer said.

“We are barred from entering into that arena as to what is spoken in Parliament. We cannot intervene into the legislature and this cannot be a ground. We cannot intervene. Why discuss and debate this?” observed the bench, which also comprised justices Dinesh Maheshwari, S Ravindra Bhat, Bela M Trivedi and J B Pardiwala.

The bench refused to entertain the lack of discussion in Parliament on the amendment as a ground of challenge, saying “we are losing our energy if we talk about that”.

The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha cleared the 103rd Bill on January 8 and 9 in 2019 respectively before it was signed by then President Ram Nath Kovind.