Government confident SC will uphold law on upper caste quota

TNN Bureau. Updated: 1/8/2019 6:44:43 PM National

New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) The government on Monday said the 10 per cent reservation in government jobs and higher educational institutions for the economically weaker sections among the upper castes was in furtherance of its inclusive philosophy and expressed confidence that the Supreme Court will not quash the Constitutional amendment bill in this regard.

Moving the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 in the Lok Sabha, Social Justice Minister Thawarchand Gehlot said the legislation will cover all castes including Brahmin, Thakur, Baniya, Patel, Gujjar, Jat and even those among Muslims and Christians not covered under the existing reservation enjoyed by Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.

He said the Suprem Court had earlier rejected government order extending reservation benefits to the economically weaker sections of the upper castes issued by the Narasimha Rao government in 1992 because it was not provided under the Constitution.

"That is why we have decided to make such a provision under a Constitutional amendment Bill. Rules will be framed under the law later. I am sure, the Supreme Court will reject any petition against the present Bill and accept the government's position of inclusive growth for all. This law will lead to peace and harmony in the society," Gehlot said in his brief speech and appealed to the members to ensure passage of the Bill.

He said that Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution were being amended so that the reservation benefit in Central government jobs can be extended to the upper castes belonging to the unreserved category.

The statement of objects and reasons appended to the Bill said that 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 those persons who are economically more privileged.

The benefits of existing reservations under clauses (4) and (5) of Article 15 and clause (4) of Article 16 are generally unavailable to them unless they meet the specific criteria of social and educational backwardness, it said.

The directive principles of State policy contained in Article 46 of the Constitution enjoins that the State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.

Under the Constitution (93rd Amendment) Act, 2005, clause (5) was inserted in Article 15 of the Constitution which enables the State to make special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens, or for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes, in relation to their admission in higher educational institutions.

Similarly, clause (4) of Article 16 of the Constitution enables the State to make special provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.

However, the statement of the objects and reasons said the economically weaker sections of citizens were not eligible for the benefit of reservation.

"With a view to fulfil the mandate of Article 46, and to ensure that economically weaker sections of citizens to get a fair chance of receiving higher education and participation in employment in the services of the State, it has been decided to amend the Constitution of India," it said.

Accordingly, the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 provides for reservation for the economically weaker sections of society in higher educational institutions, including private institutions aided or unaided by the State other than the minority educational institutions referred to in article 30 of the Constitution and also provides for reservation for them in posts in initial appointment in services under the State, the government said in a statement.

The government decision has been described by the opposition as another "election gimmick" to garner votes.

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