Quota bill passage equals 25-year record
In 1994, the 76th amendment of the Indian Constitution was also cleared in two days flat, parliamentary and legal records show. Coincidentally, that amendment too concerned reservation.Updated: Jan 11, 2019 23:19 IST
On Wednesday, when the Rajya Sabha cleared the bill to amend India’s Constitution to allow 10% reservation for the poor in the general category, it equalled a 25-year-old record for the fastest disposal of such an amendment in Parliament.
In 1994, the 76th amendment of the Indian Constitution was also cleared in two days flat, parliamentary and legal records show. Coincidentally, that amendment too concerned reservation.
After the Supreme Court mandated that reservation can’t exceed 50% in educational institutions, Tamil Nadu, which already allowed 69% reservation, held a special session November 9, 1993 and unanimously called upon the Union government to take remedial measures.
Then Union minister Sitaram Kesari moved the Constitution (Seventy-sixth Amendment) Bill on August 24, 1994. Kesari’s bill too was passed by the Lok Sabha on the same day and the Rajya Sabha the following day.
The passage of the 124th Constitution amendment bill (now the 103rd amendment) saw protests by opposition over the Centre’s perceived haste in clearing the bill. Many leaders, while supporting the idea behind the legislation, suggested that it be sent to a parliamentary panel for review. But, the government pushed the bill through in two days.
“Ideally, such important bills need to go through a long process of review and evaluation. But the speed with which the latest Constitution Bill was passed is rare,” said former parliamentary affairs secretary Afzal Amanullah, one of the longest serving secretaries in the parliamentary affairs ministry. In the past 15 years, since the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance came to power in 2004, almost all Constitution amendment bills faced extensive scrutiny. These include amendments to Article 15 by introducing reservation for other backward classes in 2006. In the National Democratic Alliance era, the Constitutional amendment to roll in the Goods and Services Tax missed many deadlines as Opposition parties demanded more amendments and reviews.
Some bills such as the 71st amendment to include Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali in the 8th schedule were passed in a single day. According to Chaksu Ray of PRS Legislative Research: “The passage of the 124th Constitution Amendment bill...was certainly the fastest in the recent history. During Emergency, however, amendments were made even in a few hours.”
First Published: Jan 11, 2019 23:19 IST