The bill is expected to benefit a huge section of upper castes including Brahmins, Rajputs (Thakurs), Jats, Marathas, Bhumihars, and several trading castes including Kapus and Kammas. Also Muslims and Christian could get benefit from the new provision
Andalib Akhter /New Delhi
Lok Sabha today passed the Constitution Amendment Bill for providing 10% reservation to economically weaker section(EWS) in the general category after a brief discussion. Most of the opposition parties supported the Bill.
As many as 323 members voted in support of bill and only three voted against, underlining the cross-party support the politically crucial bill elicited. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi were present in the house for the voting.
Union minister Vijay Goel has said if the bill got passed in Lok Sabha, “we will table it in the Rajya Sabha tomorrow. We will try to pass the 10 per cent quota bill in this session”.
The Legislation namely the constitution 124th Amendment Bill facilitates reservation for EWS people in the upper caste in the recruitments and admission in higher educational institutions.
Earlier moving the Bill, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot said that it was aimed at giving equal opportunity to economically backwards people in the upper castes.
He clarified that this reservation will be given without tampering the existing quotas for SC, ST and OBCs people. He also said the upper-class people of all religion including Hindu, Muslim and Sikh will be benefited under this reservation provisions.
He also rejected the apprehensions that this bill will not stand the legal scrutiny saying that it has been brought with the Constitutional Amendment and the legislation cannot be struck down.
Initiating the decision, K V Thomas of Congress said his party is not against the concept of this quota bill and support it, but the way it has been brought raises several questions on the sincerity of the government.
He alleged that the government has brought the bill without proper homework and demanded that the bill should be sent to a Joint Parliamentary Committee.
Intervening in the debate, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said this is a move to grant equal opportunity to all. He said the Bill will be applicable to all educational institutions and government jobs.
Mr. Jaitley also said that this Constitutional Amendment bill needs not approval of the state assemblies.
Among the opposition parties, the Samajwadi Party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Trinamool Congress, the Left and the Congress said they would support the bill. The bill also got the support of Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal and Upendra Kushwaha, who walked out of the NDA last month over seat sharing in Bihar.
Several of the opposition parties, including Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress, questioned the timing of the bill, claiming the government’s move was spurred by the coming national elections.
Asaduddin Owaisi of AIMIM opposed the bill. So did Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK, which walked out of the house ahead of the voting. AIADMK’s Mr Thambi Durai said, “Have government schemes for the poor failed? There are enough schemes. This reservation bill which you are bringing will be struck down by the Supreme Court”.
A constitution amendment bill has to be passed with two-thirds majority in each house. Because the constitution does not provide for reservation on the ground of economic conditions, an amendment is required.
The 10 per cent reservation will be over and above the 50 per cent reservation stipulated by the Supreme Court. Any reservation above the cap invites judicial scrutiny. But the government has argued that the fresh reservation depends on economy, not caste and so, will not fall foul of the top court.