J&K Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill to be introduced in RS today: Proposed law extends provision on 10% EWS quota to state

Only days earlier, during the course of the ongoing session of Parliament, the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by the legislature.

FP Staff August 04, 2019 23:05:35 IST
J&K Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill to be introduced in RS today: Proposed law extends provision on 10% EWS quota to state
  • The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 was approved by the Union Cabinet on 31 July.

  • The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to extend the 10 percent quota to economically weaker sections to the state.

  • This ten percent quota for economically weaker sections was introduced in the country through the 103rd constitutional amendment in January this year.

Even as tensions in Jammu and Kashmir are on the rise following additional deployment of troops in the state, Union home minister Amit Shah is set to introduce a bill in the Rajya Sabha on a less contentious topic related to the state — reservation for economically weaker sections.

The proposed legislation — the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 — was approved by the Union Cabinet on 31 July.

Key features of the bill

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to extend the 10 percent quota to economically weaker sections to the state, which has special constitutional provisions. After the bill is passed by the Parliament, all residents of the state with income below Rs 8 lakh per annum would benefit from a ten percent quota.

This ten percent quota for economically weaker sections was introduced in the rest of the country through the 103rd constitutional amendment in January this year. Several state governments have implemented the reservation since then.

JK Reservation Second Amendment Bill to be introduced in RS today Proposed law extends provision on 10 EWS quota to state

File image of Union home minister Amit Shah. PTI

As an article in Greater Kashmir notes, as per the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004, the total percentage of reservation in the state cannot exceed 50 percent. The 103rd constitutional amendment can only be made applicable to the state once this provision in the Act is amended. At present, the Act provides for reservation to various categories of people, including Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (residents of Backward Area, Actual Line of Control/ International Border and Social Castes).

Constitutional amendment

In January, Parliament passed the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019. The law allows the legislature to make any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than those already existing under the Constitution (such as Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, etc). It also specifically mentions admission to educational institutes and appointment to posts as areas to which the provision extends.

This enabled state governments to make laws providing for reservation on the basis of people's economic condition, and several states soon passed such laws, such as Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. As income is the criterion on the basis of which a person can avail the benefit of this law, the legislation is perceived to be aimed at the poor among upper castes. The law was also perceived to have been passed with political considerations in mind, as it came just months before the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

It is this amendment which is sought to be extended to Jammu and Kashmir through the bill that Shah will table on Monday.

Previous amendment to bill

Only days earlier, in the course of the ongoing Parliament session, the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by both the Lok Sabha (28 June) and Rajya Sabha (1 July).

The bill paves the way for people living near the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir to get the benefit of reservation in jobs, promotion, and educational institutions on par with those living along the Actual Line of Control (ALoC). On the bill becoming a law, people living in the districts of Jammu, Samba and Kathua will stand to benefit. Interestingly, the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was the first legislative business conducted by Amit Shah after his election to the Lok Sabha

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