The decision to grant 10 per cent EWS quota in admissions will not impact the availability of seats for the general and reserved categories as 2,13,766 additional seats will be added to those already existing in higher educational institutions, the Centre Tuesday told the Supreme Court while defending the 103rd constitution amendment.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice U U Lalit, which reserved its verdict on pleas challenging 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker sections (EWS) in admissions and government jobs, was informed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta the government has provided Rs 4,315 crore to central higher educational institutions to create additional infrastructure to meet the demand for raising the seats. At the fag end of the hearing, the bench asked the law officer to provide data about the number of scholarships available to those pursuing professional courses. “What are the kinds of scholarships you give for medical, engineering and other professional courses? The poorest of the poor in all categories...,” it asked
The law officer, who was advancing his rejoinder submissions on the 7th day of the hearing which commenced on September 13, said such figures will be needed for Parliament to take action and these issues would not impact the constitutionality of the amendment. On the other hand, academician Mohan Gopal, senior lawyers including Ravi Verma Kumar, P Wilson, Meenakshi Arora, Sanjay Parikh, and K S Chauhan and advocate Shadan Farasat urged the bench, which also comprised Justices Dinesh Maheshwari, S Ravindra Bhat, Bela M Trivedi, and J B Pardiwala, to strike down the constitutional amendment.
Most of the lawyers opposed to the EWS quota contended the amended law excluded the poor belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs), and defeated the creamy layer concept. The solicitor general said the central government, as a sovereign, had responded to the wishes and aspirations of the poor people. “It is submitted that contemporaneously with the constitutional amendment a decision was taken, in order to ensure that the seats available to the reserved category and the open category are not impacted in absolute numbers.