BJP backs promotion quota bill with riders

Arun Jaitley
The BJP on Thursday supported the Bill providing for reservation to SCs/STs in promotions in government jobs but asked the government to make certain changes so that it does not create reverse discrimination.

"My party is fully committed to the concept of social justice," Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said initiating the debate on the Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill, moved by Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy.

The BJP leader said his party supports the affirmative action for uplift of those who have been historically deprived of opportunities, but sought changes in the Bill pertaining to efficiency of services while granting such promotions.

Urging the government to reconsider the provisions in the bill concerning Article 335, the BJP leader that the Bill in its present form runs the risk of being struck down by Courts.

"It is more a social scheme. It has yielded dividends but there are many miles which we still have to tread. It is intended to remove discrimination. It should not be implemented in such a manner that it creates a reverse discrimination," Jaitley said.

He also cautioned that Parliament can exercise its power only to amend or alter the Article but not to change its basic structure. "As Parliament, we must remember while exercising our power. We cannot change the basic structure of the Constitution. We can only amend it or alter it," he said.

Pointing out his reservations on the wording pertaining to efficiency clause of SC/ST candidates while giving promotions, he said, none of the provisions of Article 335 shall be applicable to the states and this is likely to be struck down by courts.

Jaitley felt that going by the Bill in its present form, if somebody has a record of doubtful integrity or someone who is not efficient enough will be considered for promotion and no provision of standards of efficiency in service will be applicable to them. "I would urge the government to seriously reconsider this," he said.

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