After intense debate for nearly five hours, the Lok Sabha today passed The Constitution (One hundred and twenty-fourth amendment) Bill, 2019 to provide reservation in public employment and higher education for economically weaker sections.At the voting held at around 10 PM on the last day of the winter session, 323 out of 326 MPs present voted in support of the Bill.
Economic reservation in jobs and education is proposed to be provided by inserting clause(6) in Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution. The proposed Article 15(6) enables State to make special provisions for advancement of any economically weaker section of citizens, including reservations in educational institutions. It states that such reservation can be made in any educational institution, including private institutions, whether aided or unaided, except minority educational institutions covered under Article 30(1).
It further states that the upper limit of reservation will be ten percent,which will be in addition to the existing reservations.As regards job reservations,the proposed Article 16(6) enables State to make provision for reservation in appointments,in addition to the existing reservations, subject to a maximum of ten percent.
At present, reservations account for a total of 49.5%, with 15%, 7.5% and 27% quotas for Scheduled Castes,Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes respectively.”Economically weaker sections” for the purposes of Articles 15 and 16 mean such sections as notified by the State from time to time on the basis of family income and other indicators of economic disadvantage. This will be a class distinct from the already specified classes of SCs, STs and socially and educationally backward classes.
The economically weaker sections of citizens have largely remained excluded from higher education and public employment due to their financial capacity.Therefore, there is a need to amend the constitution to give them a fair chance of getting higher education and public employment,so as to fulfill the mandate of Article 46 of the Constitution.
The nine judge bench decision of the SC in the Indira Sawhney case(1992) had capped the upper limit of reservation at 50%. The proposed amendments seek to get over this limit. The Indira Sawhney case had further held that social backwardness cannot be determined only with reference to economic criterion.