Last week, both houses of Parliament passed the 124th amendment bill. This constitutional amendment provides 10% reservation to “economically weaker sections” of the general category in public sector jobs and education.President Ram Nath Kovind gave his consent for the bill, thereby making it a law.
The existing reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes is separate from this new quota. Those covered under the former one are not eligible for the latter.
Are more reservations really necessary?
While some people believe that prior to this bill, the economically weaker sections were not receiving any benefits, others call it “expansion of the concept of reservation”. Though it will not affect the rights of backward classes, it truly showcases how poverty has been redefined by the current dispensation. Poverty can be eradicated by introducing policies to create jobs and not by making further divisions. General category students are thus left with a mere 40% seats.
Hasty steps and insufficient discussion over this bill have raised many questions. Every bill has to be circulated for two days before being introduced in the lower house. However, there was hardly any time between its introduction and final discussion. Lok Sabha passed it on Tuesday, followed by Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The opposition¬†termed it as “political gimmick” by BJP, ahead of 2019 elections.
An NGO has reportedly filed a petition in the apex court accusing this law of violating the basic structure of the Constitution. This new reservation over the existing limit of 50% (SC/ST/OBCs) reservation makes the total reservation cross that limit while the Constitution¬†does not allow that. Hence, the legality of this new law needs immediate addressal.
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