Upper caste reservation Bill: Why this constitutional amendment will not require ratification by state assemblies

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Updated: January 9, 2019 1:10:19 PM

Unlike the constitutional amendment bill that paved way for a common goods and service tax across the country, this bill will not require ratification of half the state assemblies, a factor that makes it a lot easier for the NDA government to implement 10% quota for upper castes

As per the Article 368 of the constitution, the Parliament has powers to amend, repeal or cause variation in any part of the constitution as per the laid down procedure.

The NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to provide 10% quota to the candidates from economically weaker sections in general category for admissions in educational institutions and government jobs. Rajya Sabha is debating the bill today after it was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday by a special majority of not less than two-third members of the house present and voting.

However, unlike the constitutional amendment bill that paved the way for a common goods and service tax across the country, this particular bill will not require ratification of half the state assemblies, a factor that makes it a lot easier for the NDA government to implement 10% quota for upper castes.

READ ALSO | Upper Caste Reservation: Constitutional amendment and road ahead simplified

As per the Article 368 of the constitution, the Parliament has powers to amend, repeal or cause variation in any part of the constitution as per the laid down procedure. However, the Parliament requires ratification by half of state assemblies in certain cases that are listed under clause (2) of article 368.

As per article 368, clause (2), sub clause (a) to (e), the government will require support of at least half of state assemblies if it seeks to amend the provisions of Article 54, Article 55, Article 73, Article 162, Article 241 or Article 279A or any provisions mentioned in chapter IV of part V, chapter V of part VI, or the provisions listed in chapter I of part XI, or any provisions mentioned in the lists mentioned in the seventh schedule of the constitution or proposes to change the representation of states in Parliament. It will also require the support of half the state assemblies if the central government seeks to amend any provision of Article 368 itself.

In this case, the government has only amended Article 15 and 16 listed in the part III of Indian Constitution that basically deals with the fundamental rights. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has clarified in the Lok Sabha that unlike GST, this constitutional amendment bill will not require ratification by half of state assemblies as the government has not proposed to amend any provisions listed in the sub clauses (a) to (e) of clause 2 of Article 368 under part XX of Indian constitution.

Jaitley has also ruled out any legal hurdles as the proposed quota deals with economically weaker sections of society and its benefits will not be denied to any citizen only on the basis of caste, race, religions, place of birth etc. He has clarified that the ceiling of 50% imposed by the Supreme Court on quota was only applicable to the reservation given to SC/STs and other socially and educationally backward classes.

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