Lok Sabha passes bill to provide 10% reservation to upper caste poor
09 January 2019
Lok Sabha, in a rare display of consensus, on Tuesday passed a bill to provide 10 per cent reservation to the economically weak among the general category, or what is called the upper caste, in education and government jobs.
The lower House of Parliament passed the Constitution amendment bill to provide 10 per cent reservation in education and government jobs for 'economically weak' people across castes and religions, with virtually all parties supporting it despite the opposition calling the proposed law a pre-poll 'stunt' of the Modi government.
The bill, which the government said was "historic" and in the country's interest, was passed with 323 members voting in support and only three voting against, underlining the cross-party support to the politically crucial bill.
After a debate that continued for over four and half hours, during which the opposition opposed the bill, calling it an election-eve gimmick, 323 Lok Sabha members voted in support of the bill and only three voted against it.
In a series of tweets, Modi later thanked MPs from all parties for supporting the bill and called it a "landmark moment" that would ensure every poor person, irrespective of caste and creed, to get a life of dignity and access to all possible opportunities.
Replying to the debate, social justice minister Thaavarchand Gehlot sought to allay doubts raised by opposition members about the legislation's fate if it is challenged in the Supreme Court, asserting he can say with confidence that the apex court will accept it.
The Modi government's policy and intention is good and that is why it has enabled the reservation for the poor in the general category, he said, seeking support of all parties for the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill 2019.
"Your doubts are unfounded. Put them to rest," he told the opposition members, many of whom dubbed the bill as "jumla" (rhetoric) and "gimmick", questioned its legal standing and accused the government of bringing it in haste with an eye on the Lok Sabha polls, which are expected in a few months.
Gehlot said the bill was in line with Prime Minister Modi's assertion at the time of assuming power in 2014 that his government would be devoted to the cause of the poor and work for "sabka saath sabka vikas" (with all, development for all).
"This is an historic decision and in the interest of the country," he said.
The proposed quota would be over and above the 50 per cent reservation already available to SC/ST and other backward castes.
Hindus, Muslims Christians all other religion and people belonging to general caste would benefit from this.
The major castes to benefit from the proposed law are Brahmins, Rajputs (Thakurs), Jats, Marathas, Bhumihars, several trading castes, Kapus and Kammas among other upper castes.
The bill will now be tabled in Rajya Sabha where proceedings have already been extended by a day.
Being a Constitution amendment bill, it will require presence of at least half of the members even in the upper house and support from two-third of them.