Appearing on behalf of the petitioners who have challenged the annual income criteria of Rs 8 lakh for reservations in NEET-PG (all-India quota) for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), senior advocate Arvind P Datar told the Supreme Court on Wednesday, 5 January, that the central government's report defending the criteria was not backed by any study that was conducted before the limit was set in 2019.
'No Exercise Undertaken For EWS'
"The fundamental question is whether any exercise was undertaken for the EWS. No exercise was undertaken. Now they have filed a report to justify it and they have much to say about it. The amendment came on 14 January 2019, and within three office days, an office memorandum is issued under Article 15?" Datar told a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud, as quoted by Live Law.
"When we questioned the parameter of eight lakhs," he continued, "the first question was, did you undertake any exercise before you announced eight lakhs? There is no such exercise done!"
Datar was referring to an affidavit filed by the central government on 31 December 2021, in which it said that it had decided to accept the recommendations of a self-appointed committee to retain the annual income criteria at Rs 8 lakh for the above-mentioned quota, for the current admission cycle at least.
He also argued that if a person had the money to make investments, and if he had an "income of five lakhs, then he has further income from bank interest," and in that case, "he is not an EWS at all!"
Earlier, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had submitted that "we, as a government, will not accept any position whereby OBC or EWS is deprived of something that is legitimately due to them," The Hindu reported.
(With inputs from Live Law and The Hindu.)