Centre to move Bill on quota in promotions

Almost three months after the Supreme Court ruled that reservation-based promotions for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in government jobs in Uttar Pradesh were unconstitutional, the Centre today announced its decision to introduce, on August 22, a constitution amendment Bill for quota in promotions in government jobs.

This is set to be preceded by an all-party meeting on August 21, to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to discuss the issue.

The announcement was made by Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V Narayanasamy in the Rajya Sabha today after BSP and SP members, including BSP supremo Mayawati, stalled the House in the morning demanding reservation for SC/STs in promotions. The protesting MPs of the two parties disrupted the Lok Sabha too for some time.

"The Prime Minister will call a meeting of leaders of all political parties on August 21 to discuss the issue. This has been the demand of the honourable members. On August 22, the government will be able to bring the Bill in the House," said Narayanasamy.

On April 27, upholding a bunch of petitions filed by general category employees, the Supreme Court had set aside the 2008 decision of the then Mayawati government in UP to provide reservation benefits for SCs, STs and OBCs in promotions to higher posts. While quashing the decision, the court had ruled that the decision had been taken without sufficient data to justify the move to promote employees on the basis of caste.

Today, raising the issue in the Rajya Sabha, Mayawati said the government had promised during the last session that an all-party meeting would be called to discuss quota in promotions, but the meeting did not take place.

She said when the issue was discussed in the last session, there was near-unanimity among all parties on it. Asserting that her party would not allow the House to function if the issue was not resolved, Mayawati asked the Prime Minister, who was present in the RS, to bring in a constitution amendment Bill on the issue during the ongoing monsoon session.

She was supported by her party colleagues, who started shouting slogans in the House. Some Congress and BSP MPs also exchanged angry words, following which Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the House till noon.

As soon as the House reassembled, some BSP and SP MPs trooped into the well, shouting slogans against the "anti-Dalit government", forcing Tariq Anwar, who was in the Chair, to adjourn the House for 15 minutes.

During the forced recess, Narayanasamy and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla walked up to Mayawati, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley and CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, with Mayawati later also interacting with the Prime Minister. When the House reassembled, Narayanasamy announced the decision to introduce the Bill.

In the Lok Sabha, responding to the same demand, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said since the issue had been decided by the Supreme Court, the government response would have to be such that it would stand the test of time. "We cannot do it in a hurry, we have to give a considered response," Bansal said.

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