Reservation: Lok Sabha Passes Quota Bill In An Almost Unanimous Vote

Lok Sabha passes reservation bill that seeks 10 percent quota for economically backward in an almost unanimous vote.

The Indian Parliament building is reflected in a fountain as it stands illuminated at night in Delhi. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)  
The Indian Parliament building is reflected in a fountain as it stands illuminated at night in Delhi. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)  

The Lok Sabha today passed a constitutional amendment bill that seeks reservation of up to 10 percent in government jobs and across educational institutions for economically backward citizens of India.

The Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill 2019 was approved by the Union Cabinet on Monday, and introduced in the Lok Sabha on the last day of the Winter Session. The bill was debated for about four to five hours and the Prime Minister entered the house just before voting took place.

The House voted for the bill in a majority of 323. Only three people voted against the bill.

According to the bill, “at present, the economically weaker sections of citizens have largely remained excluded from attending the higher educational institutions and public employment on account of their financial incapacity to compete with the persons who are economically more privileged.”

The Bill seeks to amend article 15 of the Constitution, by adding a clause which allows states to make “special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens.”

These "special provisions" would relate to "their admission to educational institutions, including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the state, other than the minority educational institutions.”

It also makes it clear that reservation would be "in addition to the existing reservations and subject to a maximum of 10 percent of the total seats in each category.”

"The directive principles of state policy contained in Article 46 of the Constitution enjoins that the state shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation," it pointed out.

It said economically weaker sections of citizens were not eligible for the benefit of reservation.

"With a view to fulfill the mandate of Article 46, and to ensure that economically weaker sections of citizens get a fair chance of receiving higher education and participation in employment in the services of the State, it has been decided to amend the Constitution of India," the statement of the bill said.

A constitutional amendment bill requires at least half of the members to be present in the House and two-third of them should support it.

With inputs from PTI.