Bihar asks Centre to clear intent on constitutional shield for its new quota laws - Hindustan Times
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Bihar asks Centre to clear intent on constitutional shield for its new quota laws

By, Patna
Nov 23, 2023 09:16 PM IST

Both the amendment bills on quota were passed by the state legislature during its winter session earlier this month.

The Bihar government on Thursday demanded that the Centre immediately declare its intent to include into the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution the state’s laws enhancing reservation for deprived castes to 65 per cent, which is beyond the Supreme Court’s cap of 50 per cent.

Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav and other ministers address a press conference in Patna on Thursday. (HT Photo)
Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav and other ministers address a press conference in Patna on Thursday. (HT Photo)

Deputy chief minister and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav raised the demand at a joint press conference of ministers from the alliance government on Thursday, a day after the state cabinet approved a proposal to include two amendment bills, increasing reservation from 50 per cent to 65 per cent in state government jobs and educational institutions, in the Ninth Schedule to lend them immunity from judicial review.

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“When no one is opposing and everyone wants quota to increase, let there be no more roadblocks, like the ones we faced during the caste-based survey, in implementing the increase in quota,” Yadav said, referring to the legal wrangling during the caste-based survey.

“The BJP-led government at the Centre headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi should immediately include both the laws in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. Since Bihar BJP leaders claim they also supported both bills in the assembly as well as the council, the Centre must make its intent clear on the issue without any delay,” said Yadav.

Both the amendment bills on quota were passed by the state legislature during its winter session earlier this month.

State finance minister and senior JD(U) leader Vijay Kumar Choudhary said the Ninth Schedule was a special provision in the Constitution of India that allowed Parliament to exempt certain laws from judicial review through a constitutional amendment. “Since Parliament is not in session, the Centre can presently make an announcement for putting the state’s laws in the Ninth Schedule and when the winter session of Parliament starts from December 4, both laws can be included in the Ninth Schedule,” he said.

The Bihar government had on Tuesday issued a gazette notification for the two quota bills after Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar signed the Bihar Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services (For SC, ST, EBC and OBC) Amendment Bill and the Bihar (In Admission In Educational Institutions) Reservation Amendment Bill, 2023, paving the way for increase in quota from the existing 50% to 65%.

Both laws seek a hike in the quota for Scheduled Castes (SC) from 16 to 20 per cent, Scheduled Tribes (STs) from 1 to 2 per cent, extremely backward classes (EBCs) from 18 to 25 per cent and other backward classes (OBCs) from 15 to 18 per cent to elevate the quantum of caste-based reservations from 50 to 65 per cent. The total quantum of reservation in jobs and educational institutions will now stand at 75 per cent in the state, after taking into account the 10 per cent already existing quota for economically weaker sections (EWS).

On the state cabinet on Wednesday passing a resolution on Bihar’s demand for “special status”, finance minister Chaudhary said the state government wanted benefits under special status, including minimum 90% funding of Central schemes against the present 60:40 Centre-state sharing, to address the concerns of economic disparities that were found during the recently conducted caste-based survey.

“Let the Centre call it special package, special status or whatever it may, but we want for Bihar all benefits available under special status,” said Chaudhary, while responding to media queries.

When asked about the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission that clearly said that “no special category status” should be given to any state, Yadav said, “PM had spoken about special status... Bihar needs special financial assistance and special status.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Ruchir writes on health, aviation, power and myriad other issues. An ex-TOI, he has worked both on Desk and in reporting. He over 25 years of broadcast and print journalism experience in Assam, Jharkhand & Bihar.

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