New Delhi: A bill to include certain castes, including Sais, Aheria and Peruvannan, in the list of Scheduled Castes (SC) in Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Kerala, Odisha and West Bengal has been approved by Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Moving the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 Amendment Bill for consideration and passing, Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said, "BJP since its Jan Sangh days has been favouring reservation for SC/ST and OBC and will remain committed to the objective."
Misinformation is being spread that RSS is opposed to reservation, he said, adding, "We are not going to change the rules of reservation."
He further said the modifications in the 1950 Order were being introduced after obtaining the approval of the Registrar General of India and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.
These changes, he added, were in line with the suggestions made by state governments of Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Kerala, Odisha and West Bengal.
The Bill, the Minister said, "Proposes to include certain communities in the list and remove of area restriction in respect of certain communities and exclude certain communities in the case of Odisha."
Participating in the discussion, several members, cutting across party lines, suggested that government should come up with a Reservation Act to ensure members of the scheduled caste get the benefit at the time of promotion.
The move, the members argued, would end interference of the courts as far as promotions are concerned. They also favoured affirmative action in the private sector and higher judiciary.
Some members said if more castes are being added to the list of SC, then the reservation quota should also be increased from the present level.
They also underlined the need for setting up residential schools in all districts of the country for SC and ST.
Gehlot said the Modi government has decided to open 62 Navodya Vidyalaya in the districts which do not have one at the moment.
K H Muniyappa (Cong) regretted that since Independence the government has not earmarked adequate resources for the development of SC/ST community and demanded that residential school should be set up in all 650 districts of the country.
He further said that the proposal to review the Constitution by Vajpayee government was unfortunate.
Among others who participated in the discussion included Virender Kashyap (BJP), C Gopalakrishnan (AIADMK), Pratima Mondal (TMC), Ladu Kishore Swain (BJD), Vinder Singh (BJP), Kamla Devi Patle (BJP), P D Rai (SWF), Manoj Rajoria (BJP), Balka Suman (TRS), Pappu Yadav (RJD), Jai Prakash Yadav (RJD), Kirit P Solanki (BJP) and Ajay Mishra (BJP).
The Union Cabinet last year approved a proposal to change the Central List of Other Backward Classes of the states of Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Kerala, consequent upon inclusion of certain castes or parts thereof in the list of Scheduled Castes.
The castes and communities that were found eligible for their inclusion in SC category from Chhattisgarh are Sais, who are also known as Sahis, Sarathi, Soot-Sarathi and Thanwar.
Two castes from Haryana have also been included in the SC list. These are Aheria, also called Aheri, Hari, Heri, Thori and Turi, and Rai Sikh.
In Kerala, Peruvannan caste has been included the SC list while Malayan from certain areas will also be entitled to the same benefits.
Castes, which have been excluded from the OBC list consequent upon their inclusion in SC list include Bariki and Kummari from Odisha, while the area restriction of the inclusion of Chain caste in West Bengal has been removed.
After the Bill becomes an Act, members of the communities included in the list of Scheduled Castes will be able to derive benefits meant for Scheduled Castes under the existing schemes.
Some of the major schemes for these groups include Post Matric Scholarship, National Overseas Scholarship, Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship, Top Class Education, Concessional Loans from National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation, Hostels for SC boys and girls. In addition, they will also be entitled to the benefits of reservation in services and admission to educational institutions.
The Constitution provides certain privileges, concessions to the members of Scheduled Castes which are notified under the provisions of Article 341.
First list of Scheduled Castes in relation to a state or Union Territory is to be issued by a notified Order of the President after having consultation with the state government concerned.
Any subsequent inclusion in or exclusion from the list of Scheduled Castes can be effected through an Act of Parliament as envisaged under clause (2) of Article 341.
Six Presidential Orders were issued between 1950 and 1978 for specifying Scheduled Castes in respect of various states/Union territories. These Orders have been amended from time to time by Acts of Parliament enacted as per Article 341(2) of the Constitution between 1956 and 2015.