10% reservation bill clears Parliament hurdle, faces tougher tests

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It took an extended 600 minute-long heated debate to finally agree upon the 124th Constitutional amendment bill in the Rajya Sabha. The much-talked about 10% reservation for general category EWS passed the Parliament test on Wednesday late in the day. With a verdict of 165-7 and barring a walkout by DMK’s Kanimozhi, the bill is set to become a law. It will now be sent to the President for approval.

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While there was no clear opposition to the proposal for 10% reservation for general category, the opposition believed that the mandate has been tweaked for electoral gains in the upcoming general elections. There were heated arguments among the BJP, IUML & DMK and one of the leaders questioned the judicial validity of the bill. In Tamil Nadu, where there is already a 69% reservation, will perhaps witness the most volatility should this law come into effect.

The next big test for the bill is the Supreme Court scrutiny that it will be subject to. While the Indira Sawhney verdict is referred to as the gold standard for any such reservation-related amendments pushed by governments, this one is different.

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It’s because the apex court has not been known to strike down amendments that have a constitutional validity. And that has been achieved in this case as both the houses have voted for the bill. What stands to be debated though are the clauses in the Article 15 & 16 which Team GKG talked about in an earlier article.

The word is that the bill was inevitable in light of the mess created by the Mandal Commission report. That report even went on to award backward category status to castes not in the eligible list of benefactors.

With this landmark amendment, we could well be on the cusp of one of the most seminal moments in Indian political history. The terms of implementation of this law will also determine its standing and integrity in the court of law.

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