Reservation for economically weaker sections will continue for admissions in educational institutions
The Assam government has decided to “keep in abeyance” the 10% reservation for the economically weaker sections (EWS) in State government jobs, drawing flak from the Opposition parties on December 23. In a notification on December 21, the State’s Personnel Department said the EWS quota in direct recruitment in the posts and services of the Assam government has been put on hold until further order. “The pause in the EWS job quota will not affect the posts already advertised for and reservation for the category will continue for admissions in the educational institutions,” the notification said.
As per the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act 2019 passed by Parliament, enables both the Central and state governments to provide reservations to the EWS in government jobs and higher education. The Act was enacted to promote the welfare of the poor not covered by the reservation policy for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC). Although it was never mandatory in the states as it allowed the state government to decide whether or not to provide reservations to the EWS for appointment in state government jobs and admission to state government higher educational institutions.
Currently, the Central government has initiated implementation of the 10 per cent reservation to EWS candidates in Central Govt services and admission to Central Government Higher Educational institutions. Till now 12 states— Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Goa, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana— have implemented 10 per cent reservation to EWSs. On the other hand, the Centre has informed the Supreme Court that a total of 2,14,766 additional seats have been created in the Central educational institutions and Rs 4,315.15 crore for the same has been approved.
Earlier on November 2022, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the 103rd Constitutional Amendment which provides a 10 per cent reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) among forward castes in government jobs and educational institutions across India. Who belongs to the EWS quota and who can avail of this? For a person to come under the EWS quota, his or his family’s income should be less than Rs 8 lakh a year. The source of income can include agriculture, business, and other professions.
There are certain mandatory conditions for people coming to EWS. A person under this category must have less than five acres of agricultural land. Along with this, his residential accommodation should not be 200 square metres or more. If a residential accommodation is more than 200 square metres, it should not come under the municipality. In other words, it should in rural areas. For a person to prove that he belongs to EWS of the society, he needs to have an “Income and Asset Certificate” to claim reservation.
The certificate needs to be issued only by gazetted officers of the rank of Tehsildar or above. This income certificate is valid for a year—EWS beneficiaries have to renew their certificates every year. Earlier in the month of July 2022, the Assam state cabinet decided to extend the scope of the Economically weaker section (EWS) quota in which the eligibility criteria such as rural (15 bigha land) to urban (1 bigha land) has been extended to 30 and 2 bighas. Further, this allowed more people to be eligible for the EWS as per the state government.
The notification was issued a month after the Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional validity of 10% quota for the “poorest of poor” among the forward castes.
Senior Congress MLA and Leader of the Opposition, Debabrata Saikia criticised the government’s decision, terming it a cost-cutting measure because of a financial crisis brought upon by extravagant expenditure on several projects and schemes. “The decision to deal a blow to the economically weaker sections is against the government’s promise to provide 1 lakh employment for Assam’s youth,” All India United Democratic Front MLA, Aminul Islam said.
Assam was among 12 States and Union Territories that implemented 10% job reservation to the EWS. The others are Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Telangana and Uttarakhand.