It runs the risk of being struck down by court, BJP says, seeking changes in the bill

The controversial bill for providing the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes with reservation in promotion in government jobs was finally taken up in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, but not before Samajwadi Party members staged a walkout, accusing the United Progressive Alliance government of “misusing [its] majority to get an unconstitutional bill” passed.

Post-lunch, when Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayanasamy rose to table the Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill, 2012, the SP members trooped into the well, raising slogans. This was followed by three short adjournments, with Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien warning seven SP members of eviction if they did not allow the House to function. “There will be no adjournment [for the day]. I can’t surrender to such tactics… Such blackmail will not be tolerated,” he told them. At one stage, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath even asked the Chair to call the marshals to get the unruly MPs evicted. All Opposition members strongly protested this.

However, the stalemate ended with all SP members walking out, after their leader Ram Gopal Yadav claimed that “80 per cent MPs across parties” were against the bill, but their voices were muzzled by party whip. “A majority of the nation is against the bill… The government is forcing it as it has majority.”

Moving the bill, Mr. Narayanasamy said it would give SC/ST employees adequate representation in government jobs. An amendment to the Constitution was necessary as SC/ST candidates did not find place in the higher bureaucracy, and States wanted to remove this anomaly.

Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley, who initiated the debate, supported the bill’s basic aim, but sought two changes. He said the amendment did not deal with the concept of reservation in promotion and the issue of consequential seniority. In its present form, the bill ran the risk of being struck down by court.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, who has been mounting pressure on the government to get the bill through, blamed the Congress for the plight of the SCs/STs.

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