The Union Cabinet on Monday, 7 January, approved a 10 percent reservation for economically weaker sections among the upper castes.
The Union Cabinet on Monday, 7 January, approved a 10 percent reservation for economically weaker sections among the upper castes.(Photo: The Quint)
  • 1. The Who, What And How
  • 2. Looking Back: History and Hurdles
  • 3. Why the Government Took This Decision Now
Upper Caste Quota: The End, The Means and The Hurdles

The Union Cabinet on Monday, 7 January, approved a 10 percent reservation for economically backward upper castes in government jobs and education.

As the decision came, just a few weeks ahead of the general elections, the intent and motive of the proposed move came under intense scrutiny. The BJP and its allies projected the decision as a welcome one, while those in the opposition were more skeptical, some going to the length of terming it as yet another jumla.

The need and viability of the move – both in terms of legality and propriety – also came under the scanner.

Here is all you need to know about the decision, explained in three cards.

  • 1. The Who, What And How

    The government has put forth a set of eligibility criteria for those who intend to be the beneficiaries of the new quota scheme. The economic backwardness will be determined by their family income, agricultural land, residential house and residential plot.

    Eligibility Criteria:

    • Family income should be less than 8 lakh per annum.
    • Farm land should be less than that of 5 acres.
    • Residential house should be less than 1000 sq ft.
    • Residential plot should be below 100 yards in a notified municipality.
    • In case of a non-notified municipality area, the residential plot should be below 200 yards.

    The bill for reserving 10 percent seats for economically backward section of the upper caste is likely to be tabled in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, 8 January.

    Now, for the decision to be implemented on ground, it will need an amendment of Articles 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth) and 16 (equality of opportunity in matters of public employment) of the Constitution.

    Both these articles, at present, do not provide for economic backwardness.

    A constitutional amendment, in turn, requires the following steps to be fulfilled:

    • Two-thirds majority of members present and voting in the Lok Sabha.
    • Two-thirds majority of members present and voting in the Rajya Sabha.
    • Ratification of legislatures of not less than half the states.

    Further, the amendment may be challenged in the courts on the grounds that it violates the basic structure of the Constitution.

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