Inadequate answer: on the income criteria to identify the SAP quota

₹ 8 lakh income criteria to identify SAP not reasonably explained by government

The submission by a government-appointed committee to the Supreme Court that the annual family income of ₹ 8 lakh is a “reasonable” threshold for determining whether someone belongs to economically weaker sections to benefit from 10% bookings in the admissions and jobs didn’t seem to hold water. The submission rejected the idea that the government had “mechanically” adopted ₹ 8 lakh as the threshold because it was used to identify the creamy layer of CBO, claiming that the income test was “more stringent” than that. OBC cream. lying down. This rationale, based on a few additional criteria that exclude certain parameters of income and occupation from the creamy layer of the OBC, is, however, not convincing as the key question of the Court has remained satisfactorily unanswered. The Court had stated that the OBC category was socially and educationally backward, and therefore had additional hurdles to overcome, and asked whether “it would be … arbitrary to provide the same income limit for the OBC and EWS ”. The submission does not adequately answer this question. As to whether differences in purchasing power between urban / rural and per capita income / GDP between states were factored into this number, the submission suggests that this exercise would be infeasible and complex. But while claiming that a benchmark of annual family income of ₹ 8 lakh is the right approach, the committee does not present any data on the estimated number of SAP people in the population on this basis.

If available consumer expenditure surveys such as the NSSO 2011-12 report, key household consumption expenditure indicators are any indication, a large portion of the population will be eligible for bookings below the “below 8 lakh” threshold. In the SAP category, making the limit irrational. The committee’s assertion that ₹ 8 lakh is the ‘effective limit of income tax exemption’ even though the only income tax exempt bracket was for those earning less than ₹ 2.5 lakh, also makes the criterion of “being economically weak” less stringent. The submission emphasizes that the results of recent entrance and recruitment exams (NEET, UPSC, JEE) showed a uniform grouping of eligible applicants in different income brackets (0- ₹ 2.5 lakh, ₹ 2.5- ₹ 5 lakh, ₹ 5 – ₹ 8 lakh), but that does not explain why the grade cuts were even lower in recruitment exams than those of socially and educationally backward CBOs. The validity of the 103rd amendment to the Constitution, by which the SAP quota was introduced in 2019, is in any case still before a bench of the Constitution. But the Supreme Court must seek more clarity on the criteria adopted by the government committee to set the income limit to identify the SAP sections eligible for reservations.

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