Parliament approves 10% quota for poor in general category
The Parliament Wednesday 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 it gets his assent, it will become 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
The Bill was approved after the House rejected five 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 the 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 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 category 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.