M A I N   N E W S

RS votes for quota in govt job promotions
  194 members vote in favour, 10 against it, 40 did not vote y SP sticks to its stand
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 17
The Rajya Sabha today passed with two-thirds majority the Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill to provide for reservation in promotions to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs).

The historic legislation was adopted after a two-day debate with 194 members voting for it and 10 voting against it. The Bill, a major demand of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), was opposed by its main political rival, the Samajwadi Party (SP). Nine SP members and one Independent voted against the legislation. Forty members, including four Shiv Sena members, did not vote.

Since the Bill sought to amend the Constitution, it needed to be passed with a two-thirds majority. However, in the end, it was a no contest, since the main Opposition party - the BJP - agreed to support the Bill with some amendments. The UPA government is in a minority in the 244-seat Upper House. The government is now likely to introduce the Bill in the Lok Sabha later this week.

The Bill de-links the term “efficiency of administration” from the claims of SCs/STs for jobs and promotions, mentioned in Article 335. Introduced in the Upper House on September 4, the Bill seeks to amend at least four articles of the Constitution to enable the government to provide quotas in promotions to SCs and STs, who constitute about 25 per cent of the country’s population.

Article 335 of the Constitution states that the claims of SCs and STs must be balanced with maintaining efficiency in the administration. The Bill states the amendment will override the provision of Article 355. Replying to the two-day debate, Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy said the Bill sought to correct the “inadequacy” in representation of SCs/STs at higher positions in government jobs.

Narayanasamy regretted that discrimination against SCs, STs and OBCs was continuing and they were inadequately represented in the top bureaucracy.

Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley sought an assurance from the government that the amendments would not affect people who had been already promoted since 1995. Narayanasamy said the government would write to the state governments in that regard so that people who had been promoted were “not adversely affected”.

The SP aggressively opposed the Bill mainly because it felt it would upset the party’s main vote bank comprising the Muslims. Participating in the debate, SP leader in the Upper House Ram Gopal Yadav demanded a similar amendment providing reservation to Muslims.

His party colleague Naresh Agrawal demanded that the Bill should be referred to Parliamentary Standing Committee to avoid a possible widespread uproar in the country.





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