New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Constitution (126th Amendment) Bill, 2019 with all recorded 352 votes in favour and none in opposition. The bill, which seeks to extend the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the Lok Sabha and assemblies by 10 years amidst uproar by opposition members over the exclusion of the Anglo-Indian community out of its purview.
The Bill will now have to be passed by Rajya Sabha and eventually from half of the total state legislative assemblies in the country to become a law. SCs, STs and Anglo-Indians were granted reservation for 70 years in the Constitution and the amendments are necessitated as this provision ends on 25 January, 2020.
The debate in Lok Sabha on Tuesday saw the treasury and opposition benches spar over the issues like reasons behind not extending the reservation to Anglo-Indians, consultation with states over the issue as well as need for more steps for progress of SC and ST communities.
“This is a historic bill. We are dedicated to development of SCs, STs and disadvantaged communities. I am glad that members of all political parties have come together in extending support to this bill," union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who had introduced the Bill, said in his concluding remarks before the bill went for vote on Tuesday evening.
He assured the House that the union government has “not shut the doors" for the proposal on extending the reservation for Anglo-Indian community but that the current discussion was limited to SCs and STs. “At the moment we have not come up with the matter related to extension of reservation for the Anglo-Indian community," he told the House.
Several opposition leaders including those from Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Trinamool Congress (TMC) among others who said that the reservation should be extended to Anglo Indian community as well.
“I totally object to the government’s effort to obliterate the representation of one community and for this the minister has taken recourse to a false report of Registrar General of India," Trinamool Congress’ Saugata Roy said while attacking the Bill.
Congress’ Hibi Eden and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham’s K. Kanimozhi questioned Prasad’s figure of total Anglo-Indians in the country. Prasad said the data was authentic and questioning the Census was wrong.
Responding to one of the queries on creamy layer, Prasad said: “There is no need of discussing creamy layer in SC STs. These talks are politically motivated. We have made it clear in Supreme Court too that SC ST as a group extremely deprived and discriminated. Therefore entire community has to be taken into account and should not be discriminated."