The Andhra Pradesh government issued a Government Order (GO) on Saturday regarding reservation for EWS (Economically Weaker Sections). Earlier this year, the Central government had introduced 10% reservation in government higher education institutes and jobs through a Constitutional amendment, for upper caste people with an annual family income of less than Rs 8 lakh.
Implementation of the EWS quota in state government-run institutions is optional, with states like Tamil Nadu choosing not to incorporate it. The status of implementation in Andhra Pradesh had remained unclear so far. The GO issued on Saturday includes guidelines for implementation of EWS quota in the state. Notably, while the previous government led by Chandrababu Naidu had promises a reservation-within-reservation for the Kapu community, the new rules mention no such benefit for Kapus.
The GO also said that one-third of the seats under EWS reservation will be for women. The GO said:
i. All Castes which are not covered under any reservation category (SC / ST / BC) are entitled to avail of the reservation facility under EWS Category.
ii. The students admitted under EWS Category will be adjusted against the 10 percent of the sanctioned seats granted additionally, as is followed by the Government of India. However, 1/3rd (33 1/3) of the seats enhanced for the purpose of accommodating the EWS Category students shall be earmarked to women among them.
iii. The model format of the EWS Certificate prescribed by Government of India in Annexure-I vide their O.M.No.36039/1/2019-Estt. (Res), Dated: 31-1-2019 shall be followed along with the conditions referred in para 2 above.
iv. The persons seeking the benefit of reservation under EWS category shall obtain the necessary EWS Certificate issued by the Tahsildar concerned.
v. The eligibility conditions for a person to avail of the facility of EWS reservation are the same as fixed by the Government of India.
There is a cap of Rs 8 lakh on the annual family income for EWS candidates, thereās also a ceiling on the size of land owned by the candidateās family. The cap varies for agricultural and residential plots. Candidates applying for reservation under EWS category must produce an EWS Certificate issued by local revenue department officials.
The EWS quota has come under strong opposition from Dalit-Bahujan community members and activists, who say the move will threaten the constitutionally-guaranteed interests of their communities.
The previous TDP government had passed a bill to provide 5% reservation for Kapus out of the total 10% reservation for EWS proposed by the Centre. The government had issued GOs in the month of March to this effect, but Kapu reservation has not been implemented so far with the matter being sub-judice in the AP High Court.
The High Court has issued an interim order regarding writ petitions filed against Kapu reservation, stating that it is not possible to make a decision at this point, as a petition challenging 103rd Constitutional Amendment is pending before the Supreme Court. Given the uncertainty around the legitimacy of implementing the Kapu reservation, the government has approved EWS quota to be implemented for all castes which are not covered under any reservation category (SC/ ST/BC).
Kapus in state have demanded reservation and inclusion under the BC category for many years. The TDP in its election manifesto in 2014 had promised to include the Kapu community in the backward classes list, and to extend 5% reservation in jobs and educational institutions.
The Centre earlier rejected the state's plea to include Kapus in the Backward Classes list under Schedule IX, in order to provide the 5% quota which is over and above the stipulated 50% reservations for all categories. Former CM Chandrababu Naidu then used the opportunity to provide quota to Kapus from the 10% EWS quota announced by the Centre.
The Kapu reservation issue had led to furore in the AP Assembly earlier this month. Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy criticised Naidu for retaining Kapus in the general category and trying to break down the EWS quota which was not feasible. He said that since the matter was sub-judice, the government could not take a decision on the matter.