From the Edi­tor-in-Chief Is reser­va­tion good for the coun­try ?

Af­ter Lok Sabha, Ra­jya Sabha ap­proves quota bill for eco­nom­i­cally weak in gen­eral cat­e­gory

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The Par­lia­ment ap­proved amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion to pro­vide 10 per cent reser­va­tion to gen­eral cat­e­gory poor in jobs and ed­u­ca­tion with the govern­ment terming the land­mark move as 'slog over sixes'.

A day af­ter Lok Sabha ap­proved The Con­sti­tu­tion (One Hun­dred and Twenty Fourth Amend­ment) Bill, 2019, the Ra­jya Sabha passed the law with 165 vot­ing in favour and 7 against.

In the last leg of the leg­isla­tive process, the Bill will now go to the Pres­i­dent for ap­proval. And once its gets his as­cent, it will be­come the law that will give eco­nom­i­cally weaker sec­tions in the gen­eral cat­e­gory 10 per cent reser­va­tion in ed­u­ca­tion as well as cen­tral and state govern­ment jobs. The Bill was ap­proved af­ter the House re­jected a mo­tion moved by Kan­i­mozhi (DMK) and sup­ported by Left par­ties for send­ing it to a par­lia­men­tary se­lect com­mit­tee for scru­tiny. Against 18 mem­bers sup­port­ing, 155 op­posed it and one mem­ber ab­stained.

The Bill was ap­proved af­ter the House re­jected 5 amend­ments moved by Op­po­si­tion mem­bers. The quota will be over and above the ex­ist­ing 50 per cent reser­va­tion to SCs, STs and Other Back­ward Classes (OBCs). Re­ply­ing to nearly eight hour long de­bate in Ra­jya Sabha, So­cial Jus­tice and Em­pow­er­ment Min­is­ter Thaawar Chand Gehlot asked Con­gress how it would have im­ple­mented the promise it made in its elec­tion man­i­festo of giv­ing giv­ing reser­va­tion to poor of gen­eral cat­e­gory but by amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion.

He said reser­va­tion to SC, ST and OBCs will not be touched by the amend­ment and op­po­si­tion par­ties should have sup­ported the leg­is­la­tion with­out any ifs and buts.

The changes in the Con­sti­tu­tion be­ing made to pro­vide the reser­va­tion will hold scru­tiny of the Supreme Court, he hoped. Fill­ing up of jobs re­served for SC/STs and OBCs is an on­go­ing process, he said, adding the bill was an at­tempt to ben­e­fit poor of gen­eral cat­e­gory who have been de­prived so far.

While op­po­si­tion par­ties ques­tioned the mo­tive be­hind bring­ing the leg­is­la­tion just four months be­fore the gen­eral elec­tions, Law Min­is­ter Ravi Shankar Prasad used crick­et­ing anol­ogy to jus­tify the move say­ing 'sixes are hit only in the slog overs' and said more such "six­ers" are in the pipe­line.

Sev­eral op­po­si­tion mem­bers raised doubts about the le­gal­ity of the bill in view of the Supreme Court set­ting limit of quo­tas at 50 per cent.

Min­is­ter of State for So­cial Jus­tice and Em­pow­er­ment Ram­das Athawale said he saw noth­ing wrong in bring­ing a bill to win elec­tion.

Con­gress and other op­po­si­tion par­ties also raised doubts over the move ac­tu­ally ben­e­fit­ing the de­serv­ing when, they said, govern­ment jobs are dry­ing and the econ­omy is wit­ness­ing a job­less growth. Ques­tion­ing the cri­te­ria de­fined to clas­sify eco­nom­i­cally back­ward classes in gen­eral cater­ogy as per­sons with an­nual fam­ily in­come of Rs 8 lakh when in­come tax ex­emp­tion limit is only Rs 2.5 lakh, they also asked why in the four-and-half- years the Modi govern­ment did not bring women's reser­va­tion bill and one for reser­va­tion for SCs in pro­mo­tion.

Satish Chan­dra Misra (BSP) said the bill was mo­ti­vated by meet­ing of his party chief and Sa­ma­jwadi Party head for a pos­si­ble poll al­liance in Ut­tar Pradesh, which sends most MPs in the Lok Sabha. The Bill comes just four months ahead of Lok Sabha polls and weeks af­ter BJP faced the wrath of the up­per castes es­pe­cially in Mad­hya Pradesh and Ra­jasthan fol­low­ing its ag­gres­sive push to win over back­ward classes and dal­its, and is be­ing seen as an at­tempt by the party to win over the up­per castes. Con­sti­tu­tion en­vis­ages quota for so­cially and ed­u­ca­tion­ally back­ward classes be­sides SC and STs, but has no men­tion of eco­nom­i­cally weaker sec­tion. The amend­ment bill seeks to insert a clause in Sec­tions 15 and 16 of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

A Con­sti­tu­tion amend­ment bill re­quires sup­port from at least two-thirds of mem­bers present and vot­ing in the both Houses of Par­lia­ment.

The Lok Sabha passed the bill with 323 vot­ing in favour and three against.

To avoid the leg­is­la­tion be­ing chal­lenged in the Supreme Court, which had set 50 per cent as the up­per limit for quo­tas, Con­sumer Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ram Vi­las Paswan de­manded that the amend­ment be in­cluded in the Sched­ule 9 of the Con­sti­tu­tion. Reser­va­tion should also ex­tend to pri­vate sec­tor and con­sti­tu­ion of an All In­dia Ju­di­cial ser­vice, he said.

The Ninth Sched­ule to the Con­sti­tu­tion was in­tro­duced to save land re­forms law en­acted by var­i­ous states from be­ing chal­lenged in the courts to fa­cil­i­tate agrar­ian re­forms. Anand Sharma (Cong) said a govern­ment "on de­par­ture lounge" brought the bill af­ter fac­ing "be­fit­ting" de­feat in three states elec­tions last month. Derek O' Brien (TMC) charged the govern­ment of bring­ing "Cheat In­dia" schemes in hous­ing for all, two crore jobs, dou­bling of farm in­come and Rs 15 lakh for all cit­i­zens.

While Kapil Sibal (Cong) equated the law to the "dis­rup­tive" de­mon­eti­sa­tion, Pra­ful Pa­tel (NCP) said it will de­liver a "still born" baby.

BSP's Mishra termed it as "fraud on the up­per caste" while Manoj Ku­mar Jha of RJD said it was "a mid night rob­bery."

Mishra and Ram Gopal Ya­dav (SP) de­manded reser­va­tion for Mus­lims.

Ab­dul Wa­hab ( IUML) op­posed the Bill, call­ing it il­le­gal. Amar Singh (Ind) asked why peo­ple who are op­pos­ing the bill are vot­ing in favour of it.

Ram Nath Kovind, Pres­i­dent of In­dia

Naren­dra Modi, Prime Min­is­ter of In­dia

(G.R. KHAT­TAR) Web­site: www. busi­ness­

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