103rd Constitutional Amendment Act:
The Important components of the 103rd constitutional Amendment are:
- The amendment changed two fundamental rights, Article 15 and 16.
- The amendments provide for the advancement of the “economically weaker sections” of the society.
- The amendment aims to fulfil the commitments of the directive principles of state policy under Article 46, to promote the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the society.
Criterion for Reservation
- People who have an annual income of less than Rs.8 lakhs, or
- People who own less than five acres of farm land, or
- People who have a house lesser than 1,000 sq feet in a town (or 100 sq yard in a notified municipal area).
PIL against amendment:
A not for profit organisation Youth for Equality has questioned the constitutional validity of the 103rd constitutional amendment act which provides for 10 per cent quota for economically weaker sections.
Why the 103rd constitutional amendment act is questioned in Supreme Court?
Youth for Equality has questioned the constitutional validity of the 103rd constitutional act based on the following reasons:
- The amendment which inserts Articles 15(6) and 16(6) in the Constitution would alter the basic structure of the Constitution and annul various binding judgments of the Supreme Court.
- The amendments fail to consider that Articles 14 and 16 form the basic feature of equality. The amendment act violates restraints that were imposed on the reservation policy, i.e. the 50% ceiling limit and the exclusion of economic status as a sole criterion.
- The 103rd constitutional amendment act shows complete disregard for the Supreme Court’s nine-judge bench judgment in Indira Sawhney (Mandal) case which held that the sole economic criteria could not be a basis for reservation and that the 50% ceiling limit ought not to be crossed.
- The petition also cites the judgment in the case of M Nagraj vs Union of India which had upheld the constitutional validity of Art 16(4A), 16(4B), subject to certain conditions like undertaking proper exercises by the State to show that there was inadequacy in the representation.
- The expression economically weaker section remained undefined by the amendment and was left to be notified by the state.
- It is unclear whether the central government and state governments can both define the expression separately, but they both may define it differently. This level of vagueness makes the insertion arbitrary and unworkable.
- The bill was introduced in the parliament at haste just months ahead of the 2019 general election. Even this put the intention of the government in question.