As long as 50% cap on quota remains, states can do little, says NCP leader
Geetanjali Minhas | August 17, 2021 | Mumbai
Criticising the centre for pushing through the 127th Constitutional Amendment, restoring to the states the power to prepare their own OBC lists, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar has said the move will cheat the OBC community which is not going to get any benefit from this exercise. He also demanded that the centre must conduct a caste-based census and sought a 50% cap on reservations.
“The central government’s hasty move to pass the bill, giving rights to states to identify OBCs without lifting the 50% reservation limit is to deceive the OBC community. Majority of states have already passed the 50% reservation limit. For these states it is impossible to meet the geographical and social parameters that have been set by the Supreme Court’s May 5, 2021 order. Therefore, giving states the right to exceed the 50% maximum reservation limit is a fraud that is being committed on the people,” Pawar said at a press conference in Mumbai on Monday.
The 127th Constitution Amendment Act, 2021 restores the power of states to identify socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs) called OBCs. The Bill was passed to negate the Supreme Court’s interpretations of some provisions of the 102nd Constitution Amendment Act, which had inserted Articles 338B and 342A (with two clauses) after Article 342.
The senior NCP leader said that unless the 50% cap is relaxed, the Maratha quota cannot be restored and therefore the empirical data on OBCs should be shared with the states. Without data, it cannot be known how much representation needs to be given to smaller castes. Reservation in most states including Maharashtra is already above 50%.
He further said that giving rights to states to identify OBCs will not serve any purpose as reservation limit has not been lifted. Despite all opposition members raising this issue in parliament, it went unanswered by the government.
Pawar said his party will be uniting all OBC forces to create public opinion for removal of the 50% reservation limit and having a caste census and only then OBCs will get true benefits otherwise they will continue to be misled.
“In spite of the amendment, states will not be able to provide quotas to OBCs and this is injustice. It is like insisting on eating with your hands tied,” Pawar said.
“The Indian Constitution is greater than any judgment. The centre should amend the Constitution and make necessary changes in Articles 15(4) and 16(4) to provide 10% additional reservation for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and to reduce the effectiveness of the Indra Sawhney judgment and increase the reservation limit beyond 50%. Therefore, the increase in reservation is not a constitutional problem,” he said.
Pawar also criticised the recent incidents in Rajya Sabha and said that a contingent of about 40 security guards was called to the upper house to quell the opposition. “This is the first time in the history of the Parliament that such a large contingent of security personnel has landed in the hall. This is an attack on democracy and we condemn it.”
On the controversial Pegasus snooping issue, Pawar said the Supreme Court has decided to set up a committee. He said Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Kapil Sibal and P. Chidambaram have done a lot of study on this subject. “In my opinion, taking one of the three in the committee will increase transparency. But this is entirely the prerogative of the Supreme Court.”
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