After a debate that extended up to midnight, the Lok Sabha today passed the 124th Constitution amendment bill providing 10% reservation in jobs and higher education to economically backward sections from all communities.
In a surprise move, the cleared by the union cabinet on 7th December, which seeks to extend to benefit of reservation to those people not covered under existing reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs. The bill was presented at the Lok Sabha on 8th January 2019 for debate, and the House voted on it on the same day.
323 members of Lok Sabha supported in support of the bill, while only 3 MPs opposed the bill. The Congress party too supported the bill.
The bill amends the articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India, making provision for reservation for educational institutes and jobs respectively. This reservation will be added to the existing 50% reservation provided for people from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Castes. The economical backward has been defined as a family with an annual income below ₹8 lakhs, apart from clauses on landholding. The ₹8 lakh limit is at per with the existing limit for the creamy layer of OBCs.
The reservation in higher educational institutions will be extended to private institutions also, whether aided or unaided. But the minority educational institutions will be exempt from the reservation as per provisions of article 30 of the constitution.
It may be noted that a large section of media has labelled the bill as upper caste bill, which is a completely wrong interpretation of the bill. Although the bill will benefit economically backward people from the upper caste, it is not limited to upper caste alone. The bill says that it will cover everyone not covered by existing reservation laws. This means not only upper caste, but the bill will also cover people from all other communities and religions, including Muslims, Christians etc, where the concept of caste does not exist.
The bill will be presented in the Rajya Sabha on 9th January 2019, where the ruling 2019 does not enjoy a majority. It will be interesting to see the reaction of opposition parties in Rajya Sabha, because if they oppose the bill, BJP will use this to paint them as anti-poor. And if the support the bill in converting it into law, they risk BJP getting all the credit for the bill. Most parties in opposition have been taking a pro-reservation stance, which has become an integral part of electoral politics in India. Given that the Congress party voted for the bill in Lok Sabha, most probably the bill will be passed by the Rajya Sabha also.