I was watching a YouTube video explaining the need for 10% reservation for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS).

In this video, the speaker explains that the Supreme Court of India doesn’t count EWS or economic backwardness as being backward, and Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes/Other Backward Classes (SC/ST/OBC) only make up the backward section.

My question is why isn’t EWS also counted as a backward class?


The legislative basis for other backwards classes is the National Commission for Backwards Classes Act. According to that act, a "backwards class" is any social category (other than a scheduled tribe or caste) that the Commission lists as a backwards class.

The published list of backwards classes is available here.

Although I did not read any decisions by the Court, in this case it seems pretty clear that the reason they would rule that the economically weaker section is not a backwards class is because the National Commission for Backwards Classes has not listed it as one.


SC, ST and OBC are socially and educationally backward. Their backwardness is the result of social disability imposed upon them through a well-organised social structure of caste and ethnic superiority. Free and undiscriminated access to social life and its benefits like good employment, good education, social relation (contacts) that you come to make during education and employment especially are vital for an individual to achieve the fullest they can in their life. The reservation in certain jobs and academia, thus, provides them the opportunities to make up for the social injustice done to them.

In the book Constitutional Law of India from Dr. J. N. Pandey, the Indra Sawhney case (aka Mandal case) is summarised and mention this et al:

6. A backward class of citizens cannot be identified only and exclusively with reference to economic criteria.

To identify backward classes exclusively with reference to economic criterion would defeat the very object of Article 16(4) to give adequate representation to backward classes in the services. Article 16(4) is not aimed only at economic upliftment or alleviation of poverty. It is specifically designed to give a due share in the state power to those who have remained out of it mainly on account of their social and therefore, educational and economic backwardness.

That said, Executive differs from Judiciary on this account and has argued for their backwardness in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of 124th Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2019:

At present, the economically weaker sections of citizens have largely remained excluded from attending the higher educational institutions and public employment on account of their financial incapacity to compete with the persons who are economically more privileged. The benefits of existing reservations under clauses (4) and (5) of article 15 and clause (4) of article 16 are generally unavailable to them unless they meet the specific criteria of social and educational backwardness.

  1. The directive principles of State policy contained in article 46 of the Constitution enjoins that the State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.


  2. However, economically weaker sections of citizens were not eligible for the benefit of reservation.With a view to fulfil the mandate of article 46, and to ensure that economically weaker sections of citizens to get a fair chance of receiving higher education and participation in employment in the services of the State, it has been decided to amend the Constitution of India.

Whether EWS meets the criteria of backwardness would be best judged by Supreme Court, when challenged, so the contradictory views are the only foundations upon which the debate continues on that Bill and the issue.

  • Thank you. I have another question which is that in my knowledge DPSP ( here Article 46 ) can’t be brought into the court as they are non-justiciable, so how best can government put forward this idea if it were taken to court ? – Noeshel Jan 9 '19 at 6:05
  • @Noeshel non-justiciable means that an individual cannot drag the Govt. into court for their enforcement. Govt. is constitutionally directed to implement them and that's what they seem to be doing. The ground for the Amendment to be challenged would be the violation of 50% ceiling of reservation or only economic criteria for backwardness or something concrete within the Amendment. – Firelord Jan 9 '19 at 7:02

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