A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud told Centre's counsel: "You just cannot pull out eight lakh from thin air. You are making unequal equal by applying the Rs 8 lakh limit."
The bench noted that for OBCs, people who are below Rs 8 lakh annual income, they suffer from social and educational backwardness. "Under the constitutional scheme, the EWS category is not socially and educationally backward."
The bench queried Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj if the government collected some data -- demographic or sociological or socio-economic -- before fixing the EWS criteria uniformly. It further queried whether the government accounted for the differences in urban and rural purchasing power, and also whether it undertook any exercise before arriving at the criteria.
Nataraj submitted the limit was fixed based on the Sinho Commission report but the bench was not convinced.
It said it is proposing to form the following issues in the order on which the affidavit is sought: whether Centre undertook an exercise before arriving at the criteria to determine EWS, and if the answer is affirmative, then is the criteria based on the Sinho Commission report.
The bench added the report should be placed before the court and expressed its displeasure over failure of the government to file an affidavit in this context, despite its direction on the last date of hearing on October 7.
Giving time to Centre to file its response in the matter, the top court scheduled the matter for further hearing on October 28.
The top court made these observations while hearing a clutch of petitions by Neil Aurelio Nunes and others against the 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) and 10 per cent reservation for EWS in all-India Quota seats for postgraduate medical courses.
As many as 15 per cent seats in MBBS and 50 per cent seats in MS and MD courses are filled through All India Quota from the candidates selected through NEET.