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126TH CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BILL

126TH CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BILL

Recently, 126th Constitutional Amendment Bill was passed by Parliament.

126TH CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BILL

126TH CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BILL

MORE ABOUT 126TH CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BILL EXTENDING RESERVATION TILL 25TH JANUARY 2030

  • This bill was brought for two objectives:
    • Extend reservation for Scheduled castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) to Lok Sabha and legislative bodies.
    • Remove provision of nominating Anglo Indians to Lok Sabha and legislative bodies.
  • The bill has provisions for amending Article 334 and extending reservation only for Scheduled castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) to Lok Sabha and legislative bodies till 25th January, 2030 (which was expiring in 2020).
  • Article 334 originally provided that reservation of seats and special representation would cease 10 years after the commencement of Constitution. But this was extended every 10 years (8th,23rd,45th,62nd,79th and 95th amendments).
  • Currently, only some state Assemblies like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand etc. have one Anglo-Indian member each. The Amendment does away with this as well.
  • No member from the Anglo-Indian community has been nominated to the current Lok Sabha.
  • Earlier a panel, comprising Union Defence Minister, Home Minister, Social Justice Minister etc. had observed that the community was doing well and did not need reservation.
  • Since, the amendment falls within the purview of Article 368 (2) (d) dealing with “the representation of States in Parliament”, it is required to be ratified by the Legislature of not less than half of the States by simple majority.
    • Article 368 deals with power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and procedure therefor.
      Constitutional Provisions for reservation of seats For SC/STs
    • Article 330 and 332 provides for the reservation of seats for SC/STs in Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies respectively, on the basis of their population ratio.
    • Also, there is no bar on SC/STs candidates contesting from general seats.
  • For Anglo-Indians:
    • The reservation for Anglo Indians was provided as they were in very small numbers and were diffused over different parts of the country. o The idea of such nominations is traced to Frank Anthony, who headed the All India Anglo-Indian Association. Article 331 was added in the Constitution following his suggestion to Jawaharlal Nehru.

Provisions

  • Under Article 331 President can nominate two members of Anglo-Indian community in Lok Sabha, if not adequately represented.
  • Article 333 provides same powers to Governor of a state to nominate one Anglo-Indian member.
  • According to the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, Anglo-Indian members of Lok Sabha and state Assemblies can take the membership of any party within six months of their nomination. But, once they do so, they are bound by their party whip.
  • The Anglo-Indian members enjoy the same powers as other MPs, but they cannot vote in the Presidential election.

RESERVATIONS IN PROMOTIONS

RESERVATIONS IN PROMOTIONS

Why in News?

The Central Government has demanded for a review of 2018 Supreme Court Verdict in Jarnail Singh vs Lachhmi Gupta Case, related to reservations in promotions for SC/ST about creamy layer in Promotions.

RESERVATIONS IN PROMOTIONS

Waiting for the verdict | Reservations in promotions for SC/ST

Background

Nagaraj vs Union of India Case (2006)

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of reservations for SCs and STs to include promotions with three conditions:

  1. Quantifiable data on the backwardness of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST)
  2. The facts about their inadequate representation
  3. The overall administrative efficiency

What is Creamy Layer

  • The concept has its genesis in the Indira Sawhney Case (1992). Supreme Court asked the Government to define the criteria by fixation of income, property or status.
  • Currently creamy layer criteria is applicable to Other backward classes (OBCs) in reservation.
  • At present, Group A and Group B officers of both Central and State Government, Employees of Armed Forces and PSUs along with people earning more than 8 lakh per annum come under the purview of Creamy layer.

Center’s Contention about reservations in promotions for SC/ST:

The Center approached supreme Court that the verdict in the M Nagraj case put unnecessary conditions in granting quota benefits, as it affects the reservations in promotions for SC/ST.  Thus, In Jarnail Singh vs Lachhmi Gupta Case (2018) Supreme Court allowed for grant of quota for promotions in the government jobs to SCs and STs without the need to “collect quantifiable data”. The court also asked the government to examine the possibility of introducing creamy layer for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) by saying that if some sections bag all the coveted jobs, it will leave the rest of the class as backward as they always were.

  • It declined the demand to refer the case to a 7 judge bench to reconsider its 2006 Nagaraj judgement.
  • Now, the union government has urged the court to reconsider the ruling and refer the issue to a seven-judge Bench.

Arguments for applying the Creamy Layer concept to SCs/STs

  • Improved income and status: The creamy layer within the SCs and STs has improved socio-economic mobility and by that virtue does not face discrimination of similar intensity.
  • Article 335: It states that Affirmative action should be subject to the overall efficiency of Public Administration. Reservation in promotions may affect the merit-based culture of the organization.
  • Prioritizing most marginalized: Supreme Court in Jarnail Singh Case Judgement noted that the benefits, by and large are snatched away by the top creamy layer of the backward caste or class, keeping the weakest among the weak always weak and leaving the fortunate layers to consume the whole cake.

Arguments for not applying the Creamy Layer concept to SCs/STs

  • Discrimination within service: It is argued that there is widespread discrimination within services. For example, there are about 12,000 cases lying with the SC/ST Commission, complaining about discrimination in service.
  • Not Anti-poverty programme: Reservation for Dalits is not to undo economic backwardness but as a remedy for societal discrimination based on untouchability. Thus, it may not possess a direct correlation with economic status.
  • Difference between OBCs and SCs: OBCs don’t face the kind and extent of discrimination faced by SCs. Generally, if OBCs manage to cross a certain economic threshold, the extent of social discrimination reduces substantially.

Way Forward

  • Consultative Approach: Reservation is a very sensitive topic, thus any decision on it should be in consultation with all the stakeholders.
  • Strengthening Other tools: like encouraging Dalit Entrepreneurship, providing loans (E.g. Stand-up India Scheme), Increasing awareness etc. can also indirectly improve the Socio-Economic mobility of Dalits.