Reservation in the Indian Administrative Service

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has provided the scope of reservation for all of the services under its purview, including that of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

These reservations are in place in order to provide an edge for the weaker section of the Indian society, who may necessarily not have the means to compete with other sections of society. There are many socio-economic reasons due to which these reservations seem necessary.

The basis of reservations granted will be discussed at length in this article, along with the eligibility criteria to avail oneself of these reservations.

Reservation on Age Limit

For candidates belonging to the General Category, the minimum age to apply is 21 years, and the maximum age is 32 years. For candidates belonging to other sections of society, there is relaxation regarding the maximum age limit. The upper IAS Age limit for other categories of candidates is as follows:

  • 5 years for a candidate belonging to SC/ST category
  • 3 years for candidates from the OBC category
  • 3 years in case the candidate is a defence personnel
  • 3 years if candidates are orthopedically handicapped, blind, deaf, and mute

Reservation for Economically Weaker Sections

The Central Government introduced a 10% reservation quota for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) for General Category candidates in all government jobs. This includes a reservation for EWS in the IAS Exam as well.

In order to avail of the reservation for the EWS, candidates have to fulfil the following eligibility criteria.

  1. Those who do not have a gross annual income of Rs.8 lakh and at the same time are not covered under the reservation scheme for SC, ST, and OBCs can avail of the reservation for EWS. As far as income is concerned, it can be from sources such as salary, agriculture, and businesses, which are earned in the financial year at the time of application.
  2. Those who possess/own the following assets will be excluded from the EWS reservation regardless of their income.
  • 5 acres and above of agricultural land
  • 1000 sq ft. and above of the residential area
  • 100 sq. yards and above of residential plot in designated municipalities
  • 200 sq. yards and above of residential plots in municipalities that are not notified
  1. The property held by a ‘Family’ in different locations or different places/cities would be clubbed while applying the land or property holding test to determine EWS status.
  2. In this context, the term ‘Family’ will include the person who will seek the reservation benefit, their parents and siblings below 18 years of age, as well as their spouse and children below 18 years.

EWS reservation can be availed upon presentation of Income and Asset Certificate, issued by the relevant government authority. An EWS certificate will be granted by the following authorities.

  • District Magistrate/Additional District Magistrate/Collector/Deputy Commissioner/Additional Deputy Commissioner/1st Class Stipendiary Magistrate/ Sub-Divisional Magistrate/ Taluka Magistrate/Executive Magistrate/Extra Assistant Commissioner
  • Chief Presidency Magistrate/Additional Chief Presidency Magistrate/Presidency Magistrate
  • Revenue Officer not below the rank of Tehsildar and
  • Sub-Divisional Officer or the area where the candidate and/or their family normally resides

The EWS Certificate is proof that validates the candidate’s claim of belonging to this category.

Reservation against vacancies for Persons with Benchmark Disability

The eligibility for availing reservations against the vacancies reserved for the Persons with Benchmark Disabilities is the same as prescribed in The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPwD Act, 2016).

The UPSC gives relaxation and reservations to aspirants who are differently abled. As for 2021, the number of vacancies to be filled through the examination is approximately 712, which includes 22 vacancies reserved for the Persons with Benchmark Disability Category. The division of vacancies for the same is as given below.

Categories (PwBD) Number of Vacancies
Blindness and low vision 5
Deaf and hard of hearing 6
Locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy 6
Multiple disabilities from amongst persons under clauses 5


Reservation is a tool against abuse against certain specific classes of society. It is also useful in uplifting them. But, it can prove to be a liability if not used by those who truly need it. Regardless of its other aspects, the reservation will be employed as long as an equitable society doesn’t come about.

Douglas Carl
the authorDouglas Carl