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A Constitution Amendment Bill for reservation in promotions for SCs and STs in government jobs, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha.

A Constitution Amendment Bill providing for reservation in promotions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, SCs and STs, in government jobs, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday amid unprecedented uproar by Samajwadi Party members.The BJP members stalled the proceedings in both the Houses of Parliament for the eleventh day on the coal blocks allocation issue. The Lok Sabha was finally adjourned for the day after witnessing an hour-long adjournment. The Rajya Sabha too, which was adjourned for an hour till noon on coal block allocations, was again adjourned till 2 PM, but this time, over the introduction of a Constitution amendment bill.                

                 When the House re-assembled at 2 PM, Samajwadi Party members again trooped into the well shouting slogans, forcing its adjournment till Thursday. Earlier, the House witnessed bedlam over the introduction of the Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill, 2012. The SP members rushed to the well shouting slogans against the reservation even as Deputy Chairman P J Kurien asked the Minister of State for Personnel, V Narayanasamy to move the Bill. The agitating members led by Mr Naresh Agarwal reached near the podium, raising slogans. Immediately after the Chair announced the introduction of the Bill, the House witnessed a scuffle between SP and BSP members. Some of the SP members were also seen heading towards the seat of Mr Narayanasamy. On the other side, the BJP members continued to shout slogans demanding the Prime Minister's resignation on the alleged irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks.

         The Bill proposes to provide impediment-free reservation in the promotions to the SCs and STs in government jobs. Piloted by the Minister of State for Personnel, V Narayanasamy, also proposes to give retrospective effect from 17th of June 1995 on which date it was originally introduced. The Bill proposes amendment to the Clause 4A of the Article 16. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill said demands were raised by various quarters to further amend the Constitution.  

A discussion on the issue of reservation in promotions was held in Parliament in May this year followed by an all-party meeting last month to discuss the issue. It said, there was a general consensus to carry out amendment so as to enable the government to continue the scheme of reservation in promotions for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as it existed since 1995. The Statement of Objects and Reasons said, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have been provided reservation in promotion since 1955. But it was discontinued following a judgment in the case of Indra Sawhney versus the Union Government wherein it was held that it is beyond the mandate of Article 16(4) of the Constitution. Subsequently, the Constitution was amended by 77th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1995 and a new clause 4-A was inserted in the Article 16 of the Constitution. It said the Clause 4A of the Article 16 was further modified by the Constitution (85th Amendment) Act, 2001 to provide consequential seniority to the Scheduled Castes and Schedule Tribe candidates promoted by giving reservation. However, the validity of the Constitutional amendment was challenged before the Supreme Court. The apex court while deliberating on the issue of validity of the amendment observed that the concerned state will have to show in each case the existence of the compelling reasons like backwardness, inadequacy of representation and overall administrative efficiency before making provision for reservation in promotions.

         The Statement said that it was observed that there is difficulty in collection of quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation that class in public employment. Moreover, there is uncertainty on the methodology of the exercise. It said in the wake of the Supreme Court judgment, the prospects of promotion of the SCs and STs Employees are being adversely affected.  


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