[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Parliament has passed the Constitution 124th (Amendment) Bill, 2019 with the Rajya Sabha approving it last night. The Lok Sabha has already passed it. The legislation provides for ten per cent reservation in government jobs and admission in educational institutions to economically backward people among upper castes. During division on the bill in the Rajya Sabha, 165 members voted in favour of it while seven members voted against. The motion moved by AIADMK, left parties and others to refer the bill to the Select Committee was also negated.
Replying to a ten hour long debate on the bill in the House, Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot said it is a historic steps towards providing 10 per cent reservation to the economically weaker sections of upper castes. He said, the bill has been brought with good intention and it aims at economic and educational empowerment of the targeted beneficiaries. He rejected the allegation that the bill has been brought in a hurry, saying it was a long pending demand and government wants to deliver justice. Mr Gehlot also clarified that this reservation will be given without tampering with the existing quotas for SC, ST and OBCs. He said, the Law will not be struck down by the Supreme Court if challenged as it has been brought by making required provisions in the Constitution.
Participating in the discussion, Congress leader Anand Sharma said his party supports the bill, but questioned its timing. He alleged that the government brought the bill with an eye on upcoming general elections. He also accused the NDA government of joblessness during its rule. Mr Sharma said that the government could create only 95 thousand jobs in the last three-and-a-half years. Mr. Sharma asked as to how the bill could benefit the people it intends to cover in absence of jobs. Supporting the bill, Ram Gopal Yadav of Samajwadi Party demanded that OBCs should now be given 54 per cent reservation and SCs and STs quota increased to 25 per cent. He also sought reservation for Muslims, saying their condition is worse than the Dalits.
AIADMK member Navneet Krishnan opposed the bill, saying it is unconstitutional and legally untenable. He said reservation is for those facing social discrimination and not ones economically poor. He said the bill will have adverse impact on the people of Tamil Nadu. Later, the AIADMK members staged a walk out from the House in protest over the bill.
Derek O’Brien of the TMC raised doubts over the bill passing legal scrutiny. He alleged that the government failed to fulfil its promise on job creation and the bill is an acknowledgement of its guilt. Prasanna Acharya of BJD and RCP Singh of JD(U) supported the bill.
Making an intervention in the discussion, Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Parliament has the right to make Constitutional amendments. He assured that there will not be any changes to the existing reservation for OBCs, SCs and STs after the passing of the Constitutional (Amendment), Bill. He said the states will have freedom to decide on income criterion of beneficiaries under the bill.
Kapil Sibal of the Congress said the government has not taken any report or data into consideration while defining the beneficiaries of the legislation. He said the bill will not stand the test of law as it is in violation of the Constitutional provisions. Mr Sibal said the government is befooling the people with this legislation as it has been brought in only with elections in mind.
Union Minister and LJP Chief Ram Vilas Paswan supported the bill saying that the step is in the right direction. Satish Chandra Mishra of BSP while supporting the bill demanded reservation for minorities. He also said, putting such a high ceiling is ‘a fraud on the poor among upper castes’. Praful Patel of NCP also supported the Bill but questioned the timing of bringing the bill before the election. D Raja of CPI demanded the bill to be referred to the select committee. Some other parties members including TDP and, AAP also participated in the debate.