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Quota bill : Through in Rajya Sabha 206-10; At Lok Sabha on Wednesday


17 Dec, 2012 9:31p.m.

The constitution amendment bill (One Hundred Seventeenth Amendment) to provide reservations in promotions for the scheduled castes (SCs) and the scheduled tribes (STs) was cleared at the Rajya Sabha today. The bill was passed with 206 votes favoring the bill and 10 votes against. 

As the Bill seeks to amend the Constitution, it requires a 2/3 majority to be passed. Article 335 of the Constitution provides that the claims of Scheduled Castes and Tribes have to be balanced with maintaining efficiency in administration. The Bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha would override the Article 335. The BJP shared it concern over this; the government has reportedly agreed to remove this reference through an official amendment to the Bill. With the BJP agreeing to support the bill with the amendments, it became only procedural in getting the votes.

The main opposition to the bill - the Samajwad Party, as it would upset the party's core vote bank that comprises backward castes and Muslims, got all of its nine Rajya Sabha MPs, vote against the bill. The SP also demanded a similar quota for Muslims and asked for an urgent debate on this, leading to chaos and an adjournment of the House. An independent MP Shri Md Adeeb also voted against the bill. The Shiv Sena is also against the bill. However the 4 MPs of the part were not present for the voting.

The bill, which provides for reservation proportionate to population of SCs and STs, was approved by the Union Cabinet on September 5 against the backdrop of Supreme Court quashing such a decision of the Uttar Pradesh government earlier this year.

Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy, during the debate said that the bill seeks to correct the "inadequacy" in representation of SCs/STs in higher positions in government jobs.

To garner maximum support, government added some crucial elements like 22 per cent cap on promotions for which consideration of Annual Confidential Report (ACR) will be crucial.

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