RS nod for statute bill to relax standards for SC/ST

Friday, August 18, 2000

The Rajya Sabha today passed the Constitution (84th Amendment) Bill 1999 which allows states to relax qualifying marks in any examinations or lowering the standards of evaluation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for the posts reserved for them and help to fill up the backlog.

The House passed the bill by a division vote, mandatory for constitutional amendment bills, with Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson Najma Heptullah announcing that there were 139 ''ayes``, nil ''noes`` and one abstention.

constitution amendment bills have to be passed by a majority of the total membership of the House and a majority not less than two- thirds of the members present and voting. The House also passed the Constitution (86th Amendment) Bill, 1999, also by a division vote. The Bill seeks to amend Article 243m of the Constitution by inserting clause 3A that nothing in Article 243D, relating to reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes, shall apply to the state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Article 243D provides for reservation for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in every panchayat. However, as the tribal society in Arunachal Pradesh is casteless and no scheduled castes exist in the state, the new clause seeks to exempt Arunachal from the application of Article 243D.

Both the Constitution Amendment Bills were introduced in the House in December 1999. Replying to the debate on the Constitution (88th Amendment) Bill, which received all-round acclaim from members, minister of state for personnel and training Vasundhara Raje said the passage of the bill would help in accelerated promotions for scheduled caste and tribe persons.

With this, the government had implemented the promise by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to amend the Constitution to fill up the backlog. This was a long pending demand of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the wake of decision of the Supreme Court on October 10, 1996 that the relaxation in the matters of reservation was not permissible under Article 16 (4) of the Constitution in view of command contained in Article 335 of the Constitution.

Ms Vasundhara Raje informed the members that the government had already issued orders in July this year to exclude backlog vacancies from the 50 per cent ceiling imposed following a Supreme Court judgement. The amended Article 335 of the Constitution reads ''provided that nothing in this Article shall prevent in making of any provision in favour of members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for relaxation in qualifying marks in any examination or lowering the standards of evaluation for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of services or posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a state.``

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