Lok Sabha passes EWS reservation Bill

NEW DELHI: Lok Sabha passed a Bill for providing 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections among unreserved categories on Tuesday by an overwhelming majority.

Lok Sabha passes EWS reservation Bill

Rajya Sabha will take up discussion on the Bill on Wednesday. File photo


Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 8

Lok Sabha passed a Bill for providing 10 per cent reservation in government jobs and non-minority educational institutions for economically weaker sections among unreserved categories on Tuesday. 

The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Fourth Amendment) Bill was passed with 323 votes ‘ayes’ and 3 ‘nos’ of the 326 MPs voting. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi were present at the time of the vote.

AIMIM Leader Asadudin Owaisi opposed the Bill and AIADMK member M Thambidurai walked out

Most opposition parties supported the Bill, although with reservations. Chief opposition Congress backed the Bill, but questioned the timing of the decision, given that it comes four months before the country is scheduled to hold general elections. 

Describing the reservation Bill as political gimmick, opposition parties led by the Congress said the Bill may not stand judicial scrutiny.

Citing PV Narasimha Rao's government effort to bring in 10 per cent reservation on the basis of economic criteria, Congress leader KV Thomas said it was struck down by the Supreme Court.

This legislation has been made in haste and has so many lacunas, he said, adding, it should be sent to Joint Parliamentary Committee for examination.

"It was only yesterday that Union Cabinet approved the Constitution Amendment for 10 per cent quota for poor under general category on economic basis and was introduced in Parliament today. It raises question on the sincerity of the government," he said.

It seems to be political 'jumla' to win election as Newspapers have written today, he added.

Participating in the debate, M Thambidurai (AIADMK) said reservation is not on economic backwardness but on social backwardness.

He pointed out that government has many schemes for uplift of economically poor sections of the society and did that mean that these schemes have failed.

Sudip Bandyopadhyay (TMC) said that the Bill was not about jobs but about misleading the youth.

The Bill, he said, was about promising and not delivering and was a fake dream that will never become a reality.

TMC, he said, was unequivocal in its support to the Bill.

Anandra Adsul (Shiv Sena) also rendered his support to the Bill and said it was better late than never.

Stating that the Bill was moved as a "special agenda", B Mahtab (BJD) said that the House was bereft of moving any amendment to the Bill.

Jitendra Choudhury (CPM) said that the government wants to provide 10 per cent reservation to general category but where are the jobs.

To make this Bill more comprehensive, the Bill should be referred to the Joint Parliament Committee or Standing Committee, he added.

Questioning the urgency of Bill, Supriya Sule (NCP) said if the government had been sincere, this bill would not have come on the last day of the last session.

She also said that one of the Cabinet Minister's expressed apprehension that the law may not get approval from the Supreme Court.

She was referring to a remark made by Ramvilas Paswan, who said the government should ensure that it should not get into a legal tangle.

Dushyant Chautala (INLD) also said the legislation would be struck down by the Supreme Court.

While supporting the Bill, Dharmendra Yadav (SP) said that upper caste also knows the intent of the government as it is just an election gimmick.

Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav (RJD) said the way the Bill has been brought in is nothing less than deceit for the upper caste.

Nishkant Dubey (BJP) said the Modi government has taken various steps to promote inclusive development of society. 

'Wholehearted support'

The central government on Tuesday asked Congress to support a Bill on 10 per cent quota for upper caste poor “wholeheartedly, and not grudgingly”.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley questioned the sincerity of the previous Congress-led UPA Government in doing the same.

“You promised this reservation in your Lok Sabha election manifesto of 2014. The question of sincerity (sic). Will a government promise be limited to manifesto or will it translate into a law to deliver real benefits. If you are supporting this Bill, please support it whole heartedly and not grudgingly.”

Jaitley told the Lok Sabha that the current Bill would stand judicial scrutiny because the government was doing it through a constitutional amendment.

“Past attempts by the Centre and states in this respect failed because these were made by way of notifications of assembly laws. While these attempts sought to draw from Article 15 and 16 which provides for reservations on the basis of social and educational backwardness, the attempts failed because the said articles did not provide for reservations on the basis of economic weakness. Our government is amending the constitution to ensure we have the power to make a law to introduce reservations on the basis of economic weakness which the constitution does not presently permit,” Jaitley said.

He allayed opposition concerns that the ten per cent reservation would breach the ceiling of 50 pc quota which the SC has provided.

“The Supreme Court has clarified in its orders that the ceiling was only in respect of reservations made on the basis of social and economic backwardness,” the minister said, after the Congress lead speaker and ex-minister KV Thomas called the government’s move hasty— an election “jumla”—and asked for the Bill to be referred to a joint Parliamentary committee.

The government also said an amendment to the Constitution in respect of Articles that cover fundamental rights need not be referred to state governments.

“Under the Constitution, amendments in relation to fundamental rights do not need 50 per cent approval of states for a bill like the Congress speaker just said,” Jaitley said.

Rajya Sabha, whose session has been extended by a day to accommodate a discussion on the Bill, will take up discussion on Wednesday. 

With the passage of the Bill, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned Lok Sabha sine die after 17 sittings that started on December 11. Sixteen bills were passed—including a law that banned Triple Talaq—were passed in the 46 hours that the session lasted. 

Shah thanks PM

BJP national president Amit Shah thanked prime minister Narendra Modi for the Bill, calling it a strong step towards positive change in the lives of a big section of the our country too.

“I congratulate Shri Narendra Modi and his entire cabinet for this just decision pending since independence. The commitment of Modi government towards the economic independence of every section of the country is not only commendable but it’s a lesson to those parties who do politics of appeasement,” Shah said in his statement.

 “That the 124th amendment in constitution introduced by Modi Govt will give enough relief to the lakhs youth whose annual income is less than Rs.8 lakh and who did not get any reservation since independence. The reservation of 50 per cent for SC, ST and OBCs remains unaffected due to this decision.” With agencies 


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