Lok Sabha Passes 10% Quota Bill

The Constitution (One Hundred And Twenty-Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019, seeking to provide 10% reservation in jobs and education to the general category poor was passed by the Lok Sabha.

As many as 319 members voted in support of the bill, with only four voting against it, underlining the cross-party support for the bill.

Replying to an over four and half hour debate, social justice minister TC Gehlot sought to allay doubts raised by opposition members about the legislation’s fate if challenged in the Supreme Court, saying he can say with confidence that the court will accept it. “Your doubts are unfounded. Put them to rest,” he said. Gehlot said the bill is in line with PM Modi’s assertion when he assumed power in 2014 that his government would be devoted to the cause of the poor and work for ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’.

Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi were present in the House when the bill was passed. The government will table the bill in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Intervening in the debate on the bill earlier in the day, Union minister Arun Jaitley said most political parties had in their election manifestoes promised bringing reservation for the economically backward. Taking a dig at the opposition, he said this “jumla (a term BJP’s opponents have used for this bill)” was a part of their promises. He explained that though several attempts have been made to give reservation to the economically backward, it was shot down by the SC as the right process was not adopted.

Jaitley told Congress’ KV Thomas that his apprehension of this bill not getting passed before the term of the present Lok Sabha ended was misplaced. He said Article 368 of the Constitution has a provision that for any amendment to the Fundamental Rights, the bill does not have to be ratified by half of the states. This bill seeks to make amendments to Article 15 and 16 of the Constitution. “Just as equals cannot be treated unequally, unequals cannot be treated equally,” he said.

He emphasised that the SC order in the Indra Sawhney case on the 50% cap was only in the context of Article 16, clause 4, which applies to the socially and educationally backward.

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