Rajasthan passes Bill for quota to Gujjars, EBCs

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Jaipur, Jul 17: The Rajasthan Assembly on Thursday, Jul 16 passed the Rajasthan SCs, STs, OBCs, Special Backward Classes and Economically Backward Classes (EBCs) Reservation Bill by a voice vote.

The Bill, which also had the Opposition Congress' support, is aimed at providing 5 per cent special reservation quota to Gujjars and 3 other castes under the newly created special backward class and 14 per cent to economically weaker sections in unreserved higher castes. Besides, the bill also legislates on the existing reservation to SCs, STs and Backward Classes (16, 12 and 21 per cent respectively).

Prior to the Bill's passage, Law Minister Ghanshyam Tiwari replied to over 3-hour long debate and moved an amendment to drop the proposal of exclusion of creamy layer among the SCs and STs for consideration for reservation benefits in educational institutions, appointments and posts under the state.

With this, the Rajasthan Assembly has become the first state Legislative House in the country to pass the Bill for extending reservation to poors in the unreserved higher castes.

Participating in the debate, Congress members supported the cause behind the Bill, but suspected the motive and intention of the state government. The members also expressed dissatisfaction over the ''hasty manner'' in which the Raje government had brought the Bill in the House and held that the Bill should be circulated among the people to seek their opinion and be brought after proper field work so that it could withstand during judicial review.

Members like CP Joshi, Sanyam Lodha and Bharat Singh said that the government had brought the Bill without proper field work and survey to assess the areas and groups which need such reservation quota.

They said the Bill was being brought to satisfy the Gujjar community, which had spearheaded a pitched agitation and appease higher castes in the Assembly polls due in November this year.

The members also expressed doubts whether the Bill would really serive the purpose and held that this might struck down by the court as the reservation quota would exceed the premissible limit of 50 per cent.

Several members including Leader of the Opposition Hema Ram Chaudhary, Mahir Azad, Prahalad Gunjal, Mangi Lal hirasia and Raghibir Meena also spoke.

However, Law Minister Mr Tiwari dismissed all apprehensions and justified Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's move to bring the ''historic'' Bill.

He said that passage of the Bill symbolised the Raje government's historic political initiative, which would benefit the needy people.

Mr Tiwari observed that political leadership had to take decisions in view of the needs of society and the people and judiciary had to review and examine our bills in the light of existing law.

The courts had struck down several legislations even in the past and the legislature had to find out way by amending the laws.

''We will do the same in this case too, this is our duty,'' the Minister said.

''We shall request the Centre to pit this Bill in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution to provide it immunity to withstand judicial review and screening,'' Mr Tiwari added.


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