Rajya Sabha okays SC/ST promotion bill

Rajya Sabha okays SC/ST promotion bill

The Rajya Sabha on Monday passed a Constitution amendment bill to grant reservation to SCs and STs in promotions in government jobs with an overwhelming vote of 206 in the 245-member House.

Ten members voted against the bill including nine from the Samajwadi Party and an independent member Mohammed Adeeb. All four members of the Shiv Sena, which was also opposed to the Bill, were not present in the House during voting. The bill is yet to be taken up in the Lok Sabha.

As it is a Constitution amendment bill, it required two-thirds majority, which was easily surpassed as 206 voted in favour in the House, where 216 members were present. The SP, which is opposing the bill, desperately tried to send the bill to either standing committee or select committee, but failed to garner support from other parties.  Members of the SP disrupted the proceedings in the Lok Sabha demanding reservation for Muslims.

While the BSP tried to take the credit of passing of the bill with its supremo Mayawati saying that she worked hard for it, its arch rival SP asked the government to rethink and said it would be challenged it in the court. The SP also demanded the government constitutional amendment bill to provide job reservation to Muslims.

The Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill, 2012, which provides for reservation proportionate to population of SCs and STs, was approved by the Union Cabinet on September 5 against the backdrop of the Supreme Court quashing such a decision of the Uttar Pradesh government earlier this year.

The Bill provides for amendments to Article 16(4) of the Constitution that will allow states to reserve seats in promotion for SCs and STs without collecting data to show the backwardness of class and inadequacy of that class in public appointments.

Replying to the two-day debate, Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy said there would be 22 per cent cap on promotions for which consideration of Annual Confidential Report (ACR) will be crucial. This means, SC/ST with clean record only  will get benefit of promotion.

Though the bill will be with retrospective effect,  those who have got promotion among other categories since 1995 will not be demoted, and for which, the Centre will write to the states, the Minister said.

Explaining that the bill seeks to correct the "inadequacy" in representation of SCs/STs in higher positions in government jobs, the minister said that quota in promotion existed since 1995 but the decision in Indira Sawhney case put spokes in it.

Noting that the Supreme Court has asked for quantifiable data on it, he said, "From our side we are convinced that they are backward per se. The government is committed to provide reservation in promotion. This is commitment of our government and the party. We are for SCs/STs and OBCs."

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