Centre urges speedy hearing of income cut-off for EWS quota

Challenge to 10% reservation has delayed NEET-PG admissions

Updated - January 03, 2022 09:01 pm IST

Published - January 03, 2022 08:16 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File

The Union government on Monday pressed the Supreme Court to list on January 4 the hearing of a case raising questions about the ₹8-lakh income criterion for identifying Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) to provide them reservation in admissions and jobs.

Appearing before a Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the Centre, made an oral mentioning to urgently list the case on Tuesday.

The case is originally scheduled for January 6. The Centre has filed a committee report in the Supreme Court which supports the ₹8 lakh income threshold as a “reasonable” basis to determine EWS.

The report is the result of the Supreme Court’s repeated grilling of the government, since October, to explain how it zeroed in on the figure of ‘₹8 lakh’ as the annual income criterion to identify EWS among forward classes of the society for grant of 10% reservation in NEET medical admissions under the All India Quota (AIQ) category. The court was hearing a batch of petitions filed by NEET aspirants challenging a July 29 notification of the Centre announcing 27% quota to OBCs and 10% reservation to EWS in AIQ.

The Supreme Court’s query was significant as the One Hundred and Third Constitutional Amendment of 2019, which introduced the 10% EWS quota, is itself under challenge before a larger Bench. The Amendment is under question for making economic criterion as the sole ground for grant of reservation benefits.

On November 25, the Centre had informed the court that it had taken a considered decision to revisit the criteria for determining EWS. The Union had then formed an expert committee comprising former finance secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey; Member Secretary, ICSSR Professor V.K. Malhotra; and Principal Economic Advisor to the Government of India Sanjeev Sanyal. The committee had submitted its report to the Union on December 31.

“The current gross annual family income limit for EWS of ₹8 lakh or less may be retained. In other words, only those families whose annual income is up to ₹8 Lakh would be eligible to get the benefit of EWS reservation,” the report said.

The committee said the ₹8 lakh criterion strikes a “fine balance” between over-inclusion and inclusion errors.

“The figure ensures that most low-income people who are not required to pay income tax are not excluded and are covered in EWS and at the same time it should not be so high that it becomes over-inclusive by including many incomes tax-paying middle and high income families into EWS. Though we may not completely eliminate yet we can try to minimise both exclusions as well as inclusion errors. Therefore, considering that the currently effective income tax exemption limit is around ₹8 lakh for individuals, the committee is of the view that the gross annual income limit of ₹8 lakh for the entire family would be reasonable for inclusion into EWS,” the report reasoned.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.