The Union government has set up a committee to revisit the income limit for economically weaker sections for the purposes of providing them reservation in government jobs and educational institutions, PTI reported.

The members of the committee are former Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, member-secretary of the Indian Council of Social Science Research VK Malhotra and Principal Economic Advisor to the government Sanjay Sanyal. The panel has been directed to submit a report within three weeks.

The Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry said in an official memorandum that the government has formed the panel in accordance with the statement that it made before the Supreme Court.

The Centre had made the statement on November 25 in response to a petition challenging 27% reservation for Other Backward Classes and 10% for the economically weaker sections in the all-India Quota seats for postgraduate medical courses.

In 2019, the Central government had extended reservation in education and jobs to poorer sections with an annual income of less than Rs 8 lakh. This is meant for sections of society not covered by any reservation.

The case

A group of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test aspirants in postgraduate and undergraduate medical courses, belonging to the general category, had filed a petition challenging the quota for Other Backward Classes and economically weaker sections.

They argued that the quotas were not justified when there is no data to show adequate representation of Other Backward Classes and when there is no demand for reservation.

In response to the petition, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said that the committee will review the income criteria within four weeks.

At an earlier hearing of the petition on October 8, the Supreme Court had observed that the criteria of annual income of Rs 8 lakh appeared to be arbitrary and had asked the Centre to explain the rationale behind it.

The court had asked whether the Centre had simply extended the income limit for the creamy layer among Other Backward Classes to the economically weaker sections category as well.