The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sorabjee damper on economic quota

New Delhi, June 18: Attorney-general Soli J. Sorabjee has said any legislation paving the way for reservations for the economically backward classes (EBC) would be “unconstitutional”.

Sorabjee submitted his opinion to the law minister in the light of a Supreme Court decision that “economic criteria could not be the sole basis for reservation”.

On June 5, the Union government had sought legal opin- ion from the attorney-general on whether a constituti- onal amendment would be required to effect reservation for EBCs.

The attorney-general made it clear that the “contemplated reservation… by an enactment in Parliament would be unconstitutional under the exist- ing provisions of the Constitution. In my opinion, extension of reservation to EBCs wo- uld undoubtedly require constitutional amendment”.

He pointed to the 1992 judgment of the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case, po- pularly known as the Ma- ndal case, to state that backward classes cannot be identified exclusively with reference to economic criteria.

Therefore, “reservation for the economically backward is ultra vires (of) the Cons- titution”, the attorney-general said in his opinion to the law minister.

However, to enable the reservation, Sorabjee said, an amendment to Articles 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution would be needed.

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