Breaking-Economic Reservation : Lok Sabha Clears Constitution Amendment For 10% Quota.
The 10% quota proposed for economically weaker sections is in addition to existing reservations in job and education.
After intense debate for nearly five hours, the Lok Sabha today passed The Constitution (One hundred and twenty-fourth amendment) Bill, 2019 to provide reservation in public employment and higher education for economically weaker sections.
At the voting held at around 10 PM on the last day of the winter session, 323 out of 326 MPs present voted in support of the Bill.
The announcement of Speaker Sumitra Mahajan regarding the passing of the bill was greeted by chants of "bharat mata ki jai" by most members.
Economic reservation in jobs and education is proposed to be provided by inserting clause(6) in Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution.
The proposed Article 15(6) enables State to make special provisions for advancement of any economically weaker section of citizens, including reservations in educational institutions. It states that such reservation can be made in any educational institution, including private institutions, whether aided or unaided, except minority educational institutions covered under Article 30(1). It further states that the upper limit of reservation will be ten percent, which will be in addition to the existing reservations.
As regards job reservations, the proposed Article 16(6) enables State to make provision for reservation in appointments, in addition to the existing reservations, subject to a maximum of ten percent.
At present, reservations account for a total of 49.5%, with 15%, 7.5% and 27% quotas for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes respectively.
"Economically weaker sections" for the purposes of Articles 15 and 16 mean such sections as notified by the State from time to time on the basis of family income and other indicators of economic disadvantage. This will be a class distinct from the already specified classes of SCs, STs and socially and educationally backward classes.
As per the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill introduced today by Union Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot , economically weaker sections of citizens have largely remained excluded from higher education and public employment due to their financial capacity. Therefore, there is a need to amend the constitution to give them a fair chance of getting higher education and public employment, so as to fulfill the mandate of Article 46 of the Constitution, said the Minister.
The Congress, which initially said that it will support the move, today said in the Lok Sabha that the Bill should be referred to a parliamentary committee for review. K V Thomas, Congress MP, said that the Government was acting in haste by tabling the bill on the last day of winter session. Despite expressing such reservations, the Congress voted in favour of the Bill.
JD(U),TRS and SP said that they were supporting the Bill.
NCP MP Supriya Sule questioned the intent behind the Bill, and hoped that it was not a "jhumla" by the Government eyeing political mileage in the impending LS polls.
Shiv Sena supported the Bill, but asked where were the jobs for giving reservation.
AIADMK, the largest party in the house after Congress, walked out in protest.
Out of the three votes against the Bill, two came from Indian Union Muslim League, and the other from AIMIM.
A nine judge bench decision of the SC in the Indira Sawhney case(1992) had capped the upper limit of reservation at 50%. The proposed amendments seek to get over this limit.
The Indira Sawhney case had further held that social backwardness cannot be determined only with reference to economic criterion.
In August 2016, the Gujarat High Court had quashed an ordinance brought by the State Government to provide 10% quota for economically weaker sections in forward castes. The appeal against that judgment is pending in the Supreme Court.
Tamil Nadu has a law which provides for 69% reservations, which has been inserted into the ninth schedule of Constitution to immunize it from judicial review.