No survey done to identify number of EWS quota beneficiaries, Centre tells Lok Sabha
The government had earlier told the Supreme Court that it relied on NITI Aayog data to estimate the number of beneficiaries.
The Centre has not done any survey, and not planning to conduct one to identify the number of beneficiaries entitled to the Economically Weaker Sections reservation, Union Minister of State of Social Justice and Empowerment Pratima Bhoumik told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
In response to a question by Trinamool Congress MP Sajda Ahmed, Bhoumik also said in a written reply that the Centre has issued instructions to state governments to issue EWS certificates to beneficiaries.
During the hearing on petitions challenging the EWS quota, the Union government had told the the Supreme Court that it had relied on the data compiled in the NITI Aayog’s Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index to estimate the number of beneficiaries under the quota, reported The Hindu.
According to the Centre’s statement, 18.2% of the General Category population, or about 3.5 crore persons, fall under the EWS category.
The Union government had introduced the EWS quota in 2019 for those who cannot avail the reservations granted to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, but have an annual family income of less than Rs 8 lakh.
However, persons from families that own more than five acres of agricultural land or 1,000 square feet of residential land, are not eligible for the quota.
The constitutionality of the law had been challenged before the Supreme Court. The petitioners had argued that the law violated the basic structure – the unamendable foundational feature of the Constitution – as it awarded reservations solely based on economic backwardness and pushed the total quantum of reserved seats to more than 50%.
On November 7, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court upheld the 10% EWS quota in a 3:2 judgement. Justices Dinesh Maheshwari, Bela Trivedi and JB Pardiwala upheld the quota, while former Chief Justice UU Lalit and Justice Rabindra Bhat dissented from the majority opinion.