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Lok Sabha passes bill reserving 10% quota for economically backward upper castes; all you need to know

Apart from the family income of the beneficiaries being under Rs 8 lakh per annum, the family should have landholding of less than five acres to avail for this quota.

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The Lok Sabha on January 8, has approved the bill granting a 10 percent reservation for the economically backward upper castes in government jobs and educational institutions.

Here's all you need to know about the 10 percent quota for the general category:

Who will benefit from this?

Economically backward upper castes such as Brahmins, Banias, Rajputs (Thakurs), Jats, Marathas, Gujjars, Bhumihars, Kapus, whose family income is under Rs 8 lakh per annum will benefit from this proposed quota reservation.

According to media reports, the poor among the other religions such as Muslims and Christians will also get the benefit.

Read — Quick Take | 10% reservation for EWS an astute political move

What are the criteria for reservation?

Apart from the family income of the beneficiaries being under Rs 8 lakh per annum, the family should have a landholding of less than five acres, according to a report by The Times of India.

The family should not have a residential plot not measuring over 100 square yards in a notified municipality and less than 200 square yards in non-notified areas, according to the report.

Quota seekers should also not own more than five acres of agricultural land.

How will the quota be implemented?

The new legislation would amend Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution dealing with caste-based quotas to provide reservation for "economically weaker" sections in public employment and all educational institutions.

The government, however, would require support from at least two-thirds of the members in both the Houses to amend the Constitution. It has passed the Lok Sabha hurdle and not the bill is headed to the Rajya Sabha before the President signs it.

According to media reports, the quota will be over and above the existing 50 percent reservation to SCs, STs, and OBCs.

What are the challenges ahead of the implementation of this quota?

One of the major challenges that lie ahead of the implementation of this law is the Supreme Court's 50-percent cap on quotas in the Indra Sawhney case in 1992. The apex court had upheld in its verdict that reservation shall not exceed 50 percent.

However, if the changes are amended, the reservation quota may jump to 60 percent from the existing 50 percent.

Similar changes to amend Articles 15 and 16 were attempted by the governments in Haryana, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra but the laws were struck down by the court on the ground of the judgement in the Indra Sawhney case.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had said that the Constitution makes no case for a quota on the economic ground and only talks of educational and social backwardness.

What is the politics behind the move? 

The move is seen as the BJP's step to consolidate upper caste votes ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in April-May. Political observers suggest that these sections of upper castes had drifted from the party because of its aggressive push to win over backward classes and Dalits. And this is the party's attempt to bring them back before the Lok Sabha elections.

The saffron party faced the wrath of the upper castes in the Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan elections, over the amendment brought by the Central government to nullify the Supreme Court judgement in the SC-ST Act last year.

Reacting to the development, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi termed the move as an "election gimmick" and asked what the government was doing for the past four years and eight months.

The move is significant for BJP ahead of the general elections to garner support from an influential section of society. The party may also need the opposition's support to pass the bill in the Rajya Sabha where the government lacks numbers.
First Published on Jan 8, 2019 10:50 am
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