Polity and Governance

Reservation for Economically Weaker Sections

Reservation for Economically Weaker Sections
Background The Central Government of India had introduced the 124th Constitutional Amendment Bill in the Parliament, which would provide a 10% reservation in higher education and government jobs for the economically weaker sections (EWS) among the general category candidates. The Bill would grant reservation for EWS in direct recruitments in jobs and admission in higher educational institutions, while the existing reservation facilities will be available to the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Castes (OBCs). The Bill would amend Articles 15 and 16 of the Indian Constitution. The Bill is set to benefit a large number of upper castes in India which would include a vast majority of Brahmins, Jats, Thakurs, Marathas and a lot of trading classes as well, who belong to upper castes but are not economically well-off. The following amendments have been proposed: Article 15 (Reservation in Educational Institutions). In article 15 of the Indian Constitution, after clause (5), the following clause has been proposed to be inserted: “(6) Nothing in this article or sub-clause (g) of clause (1) of Article 19 or clause (2) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making,— any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clauses (4) and (5) in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of Article 30, which in the case of reservation would be in addition to the existing reservations and subject to a maximum of ten per cent of the total seats in each category.” Article 16 (Reservation in Jobs) In article 16 of the Indian Constitution, after clause (5), the following clause has been proposed to be inserted: “(6) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clause (4), in addition to the existing reservation and subject to a maximum of ten per cent of the posts in each category.” Who belongs to the EWS? The Government of India has specified certain criteria for identifying the EWS- as per reports, candidates with annual family income below Rs 8 lakhs and owning less than five acres of land will come under the purview of the Bill. The Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the states will have the freedom to decide on the income criterion of beneficiaries under the Bill. At present, reservations in India account for a total of 49.5%. If the 10% extra reservation for EWS is also considered, the percentage will rise to 59.5%. 7.5%, 15%, and 27% quotas are reserved for Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes, and Other Backward Classes respectively. The bill needed a special majority to pass in the Lok Sabha. It was passed in the lower house on the 8th of January 2019. 323 members voted in favor of the bill, while three voted against it. Members of the AIADMK staged a walkout before the voting. The Rajya Sabha also passed the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 on the 9th of January. During division on the bill in the Rajya Sabha, 165 members voted in favor of it while seven members voted against. The motion moved by AIADMK, left parties and others to refer the bill to the Select Committee was negated. As the Bill had been passed by both houses of the Parliament, the Constitution 124th Amendment Bill 2019 was sent to the President of India for his assent. President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the Bill on the 12th of January 2019. The bill does not need the approval of State Assemblies. The stand of the government Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the Bill is a landmark moment in the nation’s history and an effective measure that ensures justice for all sections of society. Finance minister Arun Jaitley said that the 50% cap on reservations imposed by the Supreme Court was only for caste-based reservations, and the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) reservation won’t be impacted by it. Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot said the similar state laws for EWS quota were quashed by Courts because there was no provision for economic reservation in the Constitution before. Now, the Law will not be struck down by the Supreme Court if challenged as it has been brought by making required provisions in the Constitution. Views of the Opposition The Indian National Congress supported the Bill but called the action a “gimmick” aimed at political gains in upcoming elections. Parties like BSP, SP, TDP and DMK, also called it a political stunt but welcomed the move. Other parties such as AIMIM and AIADMK criticized the move.
Source: https://starsolutions.vn/en/what-is-reservation/

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