Gujarat Gives 10% Quota After New Law, May Defer Civil Services Exam

Gujarat Gives 10% Quota After New Law, May Defer Civil Services Exam

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "game-changing" move of quota for the economically weak has debuted in his home state Gujarat. Vijay Rupani, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, tweeted on Sunday that his state is the first to provide 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker sections in the general category in government jobs and educational institutions.

"Happy to state that the Government Of Gujarat has decided to implement 10% EWS reservation benefits from 14th January," tweeted the chief minister.

For this, the preliminary exams for the Gujarat Public Service Commission may be deferred, say officials. The quota will not apply for jobs and admissions in which the process began before today and exams have been held.

The quota, which was introduced as a constitution amendment bill and is over and above the Supreme Court's 50 per cent cap on reservations, became law last week after it was passed in both houses of parliament. The move is widely seen as the ruling BJP's big ticket offering to upper caste voters - seen to be disenchanted with the party - ahead of the national election due by May.

It provides for job and education quota for those who earn less than Rs. 8 lakh a year and have not more than five acres of land.

In 2016, Gujarat's BJP government had announced a similar 10 per cent reservation for the economically backward among upper castes in an attempt to mollify the Patidars who had launched a violent agitation for quota.

A special order or ordinance issued by the state's BJP government was scrapped by the Gujarat High Court, which said the constitution doesn't allow quota on economic basis. The high court order was later put on hold by the Supreme Court which, however, also stopped the government from implementing the ordinance.

In 1993, the Supreme Court had ruled 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."

The centre's new quota law has been challenged in the Supreme Court by the organisation Youth For Equality, which argues that the economic criterion cannot be the sole basis for reservation and that the quota violates the top court's ceiling.

The Gujarat Congress has criticised the state government saying the "hurriedly made announcement" will create confusion.