The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a Bill with voice vote to extend the reservation of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) for the next 10 years up to 25 January, 2030, with the government announcing that the reservation will "never" be removed.
In his concluding remarks, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2019 amends provisions related to reservation of seats for SCs and STs and that reservation is the right of these under the privileged community.
"Reservation is undoubtedly good and it should be going on further. The BJP is determined to provide reservation for SC/ST and it will be. This reservation will never be removed," Prasad said.
The Minister said the government will bring reservation in judiciary also.
The Bill was passed with division of votes with 352/0.
The government brought the Bill in the House for its passage as the reservation provision for SCs and STs in the Constitution is to cease on 25 January, 2020.
The Bill, however, did not mention about the extension of reservation for the Anglo-Indian community whose reservation will also cease on the same date.
Opposition parties across the party lines supported the Bill for extending reservation for SCs and STs, but they questioned the government why it took away the Anglo-Indian community out of the Bill and not declared extension of their reservation even after they played major roles in various fields. Over two dozen MPs participated in the discussion on the Bill which lasted over three hours.
"Although the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes have made considerable progress in the last 70 years, the reasons which weighed with the Constituent Assembly in making provisions with regard to the aforesaid reservation of seats have not yet ceased to exist.
"Therefore, with a view to retaining the inclusive character as envisioned by the founding fathers of the Constitution, it is proposed to continue the reservation of seats for the SCs and the STs for another ten years up to 25 January, 2030."
The Minister said 84 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats are reserved for SCs. "In Legislative Assemblies, there are 4,120 seats and 614 of these are reserved for SCs.
"As far as STs are concerned, a total of 47 seats are reserved for them in Lok Sabha and 554 in various Legislative Assemblies."
As per the 2011 census, the population of SCs is over 20.13 crore and STs is over 10 crore.
Talking about the Anglo-Indians, the Minister said it was decided that two seats will be reserved for them in the Lok Sabha and one in legislative assemblies. "We have not come with the Bill (for Anglo-Indian) but we are thinking."
Meanwhile, oppositions raised objection over the issue on which the Minister said only 296 Anglo-Indians are in India as per the 2011 census. "In West Bengal, the number of Anglo-Indian as per the 2011 census is 9, Odisha 4, Chhattisgarh 3, Maharashtra 16, Andhra Pradesh 62, Karnataka 9, Kerala 124 and Tamil Nadu 69."
DMK's Kanimojhi said she was happy to support the Bill, but asked why the Anglo-Indian community is not included in the Bill. "As the number of the community is shrinking, we cannot forget the contribution of the Anglo-Indians in the country."
(With inputs from IANS)
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