A new law that had been proposed to provide a 10 percent job and education quota for general class people that are economically backward have been given the thumbs up by both houses of parliament with a thumping majority. Though some opposition members had asked that the bill should be sent for closer scrutiny to a select committee it was rejected. Though the bill was declared as a political stunt by opposition parties just ahead of the elections in 2019, Prime Minister Modi called the bill a victory for the nation’s poor. Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad explained to the Rajya Sabha that this 10 percent reservation would help eligible candidates from marginal communities in general category apply in both central and state government institutions and be part of the nation’s progress.
In the Rajya Sabha, the law was passed with 165 ayes and only 7 days while in the Lok Sabha it was supported by 323 lawmakers with 3 lawmakers voting against it. The easy passage of the bill was greeted with enthusiasm by Mr. Modi who welcomed the vibrant debate in parliament for the law and insightful opinions of the members that showed the willingness of the people. Some opposition parties that supported the bill questioned the way it was hastily drafted and passed by both houses and Mr. Kapil Sibal from Congress doubted if the bill would pass the Supreme Court’s scrutiny. Law Minister said that the bill has been introduced before elections to help the government to take requisite welfare steps for people.
The Aam Aadmi party which is the ruling party of Delhi had boycotted the bill saying that it has let down the actual economically weak upper castes. Though there have been instances in the past where bills based on economic quota have been canceled by Supreme Court the ruling government has argued that as the bill gives reservations on economic background basis cannot be subjected to 50 percent bar. With some opposition parties insisting on closer scrutiny by a parliamentary committee and others refusing to support them it showed the rift within opposition parties. The motion to send the bill for the review of select committee was rejected by 155 members of the Rajya Sabha.
The bill will help economically weaker upper caste groups like Jats, Marathas, Thakurs, Brahmins and trader communities. When the opposition complained about introducing the bill just before elections Mr. Modi said that as elections are held in the country almost every year there was no better time than now. He said that is exactly the reason why he has been insisting about having both central and state level elections during the same period. This bill for constitution amendment should be passed with a two-thirds majority of each house since there is no provision in the Constitution for reservations based on economic conditions. There was a 10-hour long debate in the Rajya Sabha before the commencement of voting process about the bill with opposition party members from Congress and others slamming it as disrespect shown to democratic India’s highest institution.