Reservations: Modi’s 10% Quota Gambit Passes Parliamentary Scrutiny

The reservation bill that seeks 10 percent quota for economically backward has now also passed the Rajya Sabha.

The Indian Parliament building stands in New Delhi, India (Photographer: Pankaj Nangia/Bloomberg News)  
The Indian Parliament building stands in New Delhi, India (Photographer: Pankaj Nangia/Bloomberg News)  

The Rajya Sabha has also passed the constitutional amendment bill that seeks reservation of up to 10 percent in government jobs and across educational institutions for economically backward citizens of India. This was a day after the Lok Sabha passed it almost unanimously.

The Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill 2019 was approved by the Union Cabinet on Monday, passed in the Lok Sabha on the last day of the Winter Session. The bill was then tabled in the Rajya Sabha today where it was debated for over 10 hours.

The House voted in favour of the bill with a majority of 165. There were seven who voted against it. The bill now only requires Presidential consent.

During the day, the bill was strongly protested by Congress and the opposition parties. The protesting parliamentarians demanded sending the bill to a select committee for further scrutiny.

The Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Aam Aadmi Party were in the well of the house and raised slogans against the government before the house was adjourned. Congress, while saying it supports the bill, said that it’s not in favour of the “hasty” manner in which it was introduced by the government.

Social Welfare and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot disagreed. This decision has not been taken in haste, he said. “It is brought with good intention keeping in view the welfare of the poor in general category people.”

The minister added the Constitution didn't allow reservation on economic basis and many among the poor of general category missed out on opportunities.

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.”

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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.”

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.

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