Modi government’s decision to give 10% job quota to economically weaker sections will fundamentally alter the options available to millions of candidates in general category, who will enjoy relaxations in terms of age limit and number of attempts to apply for government jobs, including prestigious and highly coveted civil services.
Once the new quota comes into effect, job aspirants from general category could enjoy similar relaxations given to OBC candidates. The OBC candidates currently have an upper age limit of 35 years and nine attempts to crack civil services examination while candidates from general category have an age limit of 32 years and are allowed only six attempts. For SC/ST candidates, upper age limit is 37 years and there is no limit on the number of attempts.
“The government will bring in another bill that will deal with all these aspects,” a senior BJP Rajya Sabha member told Financial Express Online.
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As per the initial indications, the government is set to follow the rules applicable to other backward class candidates. The proposal cleared by the union cabinet that cleared a constitutional amendment bill on 7th January as an enabling provision referred to an annual household income of up to Rs. 8 lakh for determining the economic backwardness of a candidate from general category. This is exactly the same for determining the creamy layer for other socially and educationally backward class (OBC) candidates.
The government is likely to follow the same set of parameters for economically weaker sections (general category candidates) as are being followed for other socially and educationally backward classes (OBC candidates not falling in creamy layer category), otherwise there could be legal issues. Article 14, 15 and 16 of Indian Constitution prohibit the State from discriminating among citizens on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth and also ensure equality before law and equality in matters of public employment.
Therefore, it will be difficult for any government to have two set of parameters for household income, land holding or other criterion of economic disadvantages or two different sets of age-limits and maximum number of attempts for two sets of candidates from similar but different categories – general category candidates from economically weaker sections of the society (poor upper caste candidates) and socially and educationally backward class candidates (OBCs).
The government will most likely introduce a detailed bill in the upcoming budget session that will deal with all these aspects of 10% quota for general category candidates. The session is expected to start from 31st January and the government will push through its pending legislative business in this two week long session which will be the last one before general elections due in April-May this year.