The system of reservation in India was initiated for bringing the highly neglected and deprived backward castes (generally considered unprivileged) on the same pedestal as the upper castes (generally considered privileged). The debate over reservations in Central Government jobs has been stirred yet again after a 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) within the General Category came into effect on February 1, 2019.
Reservations have always remained a highly emotive subject since they were introduced. Though there are very high-decibel debates on reservations, most people don’t have a proper understanding on reservations, their basis of formulation, implementation, Supreme Court verdict, and other parameters. So, let’s take a closer look.
Basis of Reservation
Before the introduction of 10% reservations for the Economically Weaker sections of the society, all the previous reservations or quota for Central Government jobs were mainly based upon castes or tribes. At the national level, no reservation has yet been granted on the basis of religion. However, some states have extended reservation to certain religious minorities.
Categories of Reservations in Central Government Jobs
The following reservations are there in Central Government jobs where selection is through direct recruitment on all India basis in open competition exams:
- Scheduled Castes (SCs): 15%
- Scheduled Tribes (STs): 7.5%
- Other Backward Castes (OBCs): 27%
- Economically Backward Section: 10%
New 10% Reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS)
In early January 2019, the Parliament approved the bill and consequently, Constitution has been amended so that the quota is provided to the economically-backward among upper castes in Central Government posts and services.
The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Fourth Amendment) Bill 2019 was signed by the President of India on January 13, 2019. Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution have been amended. Clauses were added for making special provisions for economically weaker sections (EWS) of citizens so that reservations up to 10% can be provided to them in government services.
The Ministry of Personnel and Public Grievances has also written a letter to the Union ministries and central departments informing them about the concerned amendments. The letter also asked them to implement the same in recruitment “effective in respect of all direct recruitment vacancies to be notified on or after February 1, 2019.”
Indian citizens belonging to the general category can avail 10% reservations under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) Category provided:
- Their gross annual family income is within Rs 8 lakh.
- In Rural Areas: They possess agricultural land less than 5 acres as well as a residential house that is spread over an area of less than 1000 square feet.
- In Urban Areas: They either possess:
– Less than 100 yards of residential plot in a notified municipal area, or
– Less than 200 yards of residential plot in a non-notified municipal area
Supreme Court Verdict on Reservations in Employment Exceeding 50% Reservation
After the implementation of 10% EWS reservation, the percentage of total reservation has reached 59.5%. In 1992, a Supreme Court order capped the upper limit of reservations for government jobs at 50%. However, in 2010 the SC allowed states to exceed the 50% reservation limit only if they can provide enough evidence of the backwardness or inadequacy of representation of that class.
Earlier only two states (Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra) had more than 50% reservation. Now, several BJP-governed states (including Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, and Goa) have implemented the 10% reservation for the economically weaker sections, thereby crossing the 50% total reservation limit.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured that the new EWS category will not have any adverse impact on the benefits accrued to the existing reservations for scheduled castes, tribals, Dalits, and other backward castes.
Even if you are under the EWS category, no additional benefits (such as relaxations in terms of age-limit/marks/number of attempts) are there till now. You’ll be treated in the same manner as any other open-merit (general) candidate.