In a huge blow to the Gujarat government, the Gujarat High Court quashed an Ordinance promulgated by the State government to provide 10 % quota for upper castes in education and admission. The court held that no quota can be granted on the basis of economic criteria because it is not provided for in the Constitution which allows quotas on socially backwards and scheduled castes and tribes.
The court observed that the Ordinance promulgated by the State government is against the spirit of the Constitution and fundamental rights. Besieged with highly charged agitation by the politically and socially powerful Patidar community seeking quotas, the Anandiben administration on May 1st, issued Gujarat Unreserved Economically Weaker Sections (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointments and Posts in Services under the State) Ordinance, 2016.
The petitioner Jayantbhai Manani, a social worker associated with several outfits for OBC communities, stated in his petition that “any special provision providing quotas based on economic criteria is not tenable under the law as the Constitution does not permit the same." According to him, the Ordinance was in “direct conflict" with the judgement of the apex court that a state cannot provide more than 50 per cent reservation, and that reservation could only be allowed on “ground of social and educational backwardness and not poverty per se."
Questioning the passage of Ordinance, the petitioner stated that without collecting necessary data on economic backwardness among the upper castes who don't enjoy benefits of quota, the government issued the Ordinance. “In absence of such data or inquiry, classification of economically backward sections suffers from arbitrariness. Before granting reservation to economically weaker sections, state authorities have to identify and measure quantifiable data by showing backwardness of the EWS in general category and inadequacy of representation of a class in public employment under the state," the petitioner said.
In the Ordinance, the government has capped income limit of Rs. 6 lakh to avail the benefits of quotas under the scheme.