Centre to retain Rs 8 lakh income criteria for EWS quota, tells SC will change norms next year

The government said that changing norms at a time when admissions and allocation of colleges for NEET are ongoing, will lead to complications.

The government said that changing norms at a time when admissions and allocation of colleges for NEET are ongoing, will lead to complications.

The Centre has told the Supreme Court that it will continue with the existing annual income limit of Rs 8 lakh for identification of economically weaker section (EWS) reservation beneficiaries for admission to medical courses across the country.

In an affidavit filed before the top court on Saturday, the government said that changing norms at a time when admissions and allocation of colleges for NEET are ongoing, will lead to complications. “The central government has decided to accept the recommendations of the committee including the recommendation of applying the new criteria prospectively,” the Centre said.

The three-member committee comprising former union finance secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, member secretary ICSSR VK Malhotra, and principal economic advisor Sanjeev Sanyal, in its report submitted to Centre on December 31 said, “The committee has come to the conclusion that the existing annual income criteria of Rs 8 lakh is not over-inclusive.”

Along with the income limit, the Centre had laid down other other conditions for identifying EWS, such as the beneficiary’s family must not own or possess five acres of agricultural land, a residential flat of 1,000 square feet and above or residential plot of 100/200 square yards and above in notified/non-notified municipalities.

The revised EWS criteria, following the recommendations of the committee, retains the Rs 8 lakh annual income ceiling but excludes families with agricultural land of five acres or more, irrespective of income.

The affidavit filed by the Centre was in response to the court asking the government why it had settled on an annual income of less than Rs 8 lakh to identify potential EWS beneficiaries among the all-India quota..

At the last hearing, in November, Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government, said existing income criteria would be revisited and a decision made within four weeks.

The government had earlier argued that the Rs 8 lakh annual income criteria was consistent with Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution. 

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