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Home / India / Income cut-off for economically weaker sections fixed after study: Centre to Rajya Sabha

Income cut-off for economically weaker sections fixed after study: Centre to Rajya Sabha

Government had not cited any research to back up the Rs 8-lakh criterion before the Supreme Court in October
The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India
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Basant Kumar Mohanty   |   New Delhi   |   Published 16.12.21, 03:06 AM

The Centre on Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha that the contentious Rs 8-lakh income cut-off for the Economically Weaker Sections quota had been fixed after a “detailed study,” a claim seemingly at odds with recent government depositions in the Supreme Court.

DMK member M. Shanmugam and MDMK member Vaiko had asked whether the Rs 8-lakh ceiling that decided eligibility for EWS reservation benefits had been fixed after a detailed study.

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“Yes Sir. The annual family income limit of Rs 8 lakh to identify EWS beneficiaries was fixed after detailed study,” social justice minister Virendra Kumar said in a written reply in the House.

The Centre had not cited any study to back up the Rs 8-lakh criterion when the Supreme Court in October asked why the same income cut-off was being used for the EWS and the Other Backward Classes, who were unequal in every other way.

All OBC candidates with family incomes of Rs 8 lakh and above are barred from reservation benefits on the ground that they form a “creamy layer”.

Questioned by the apex court, the government had only cited a study by a commission that the erstwhile UPA government had set up to make recommendations on EWS reservation.

That commission had in its report in 2010 recommended that the non-taxable limit for incomes —revised from time to time — be adopted as the cut-off for EWS quota benefits. The non-taxable limit for individuals was Rs 1.6 lakh in 2010 and Rs 2.5 lakh in 2019, when the EWS quota came into being. The non-taxable limit remains Rs 2.5 lakh.

“What the government is saying in Parliament does not match what it has told the court. If it (the EWS income cut-off) were based on a study, the government could have cited it (in court), but they sought time to revisit it (the cut-off),” DMK member P. Wilson said.

Since the court questioning, the social justice and empowerment ministry has set up a committee to suggest a fresh income criterion for the EWS quota by the third week of this month.

The Centre has halted the counselling process for admissions to undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses because of pending cases relating to implementation of the 10 per cent EWS and 27 per cent OBC quotas in the all-India pool of seats at state medical colleges.

The all-India pool accounts for 15 per cent of MBBS and BDS (dental science) seats and 50 per cent of MD and MS seats at state medical colleges. So far, the Centre has implemented only the Scheduled Caste (15 per cent) and Scheduled Tribe (7.5 per cent) quotas in these seats.

With Madras High Court directing the Centre to implement OBC reservation in these seats from this year, the government issued a notification on July 29 implementing both the EWS and OBC quotas in the all-India pool seats.

Several students have challenged the validity of the order, which had come after the examination process for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (Postgraduate) had already begun.



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