The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a Constitution Amendment Bill to grant 10% reservation in education and government jobs to economically-weaker individuals belonging to the general category, across religions.
The reservation is meant for economically-weaker individuals whose annual earning is below Rs. 8 lakh and who possess less than 5 acres of agriculture land.
There were 323 votes in favour of the bill, and 3 against it.
If the bill is passed by the Rajya Sabha as well, the total percentage of the reservation will go up to 60, surpassing the 50% ceiling prescribed by the Supreme Court.
After the passage of the bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked the parties for supporting the bill and said that the government is 'resolutely committed to the principle of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.’
The Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in the House by Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot on Tuesday, a day after the Cabinet took the politically-significant decision, just a few months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
While moving the bill, Gehlot said the legislation will pass the legal scrutiny and any challenge will be defeated in a court of law.
He insisted that it was necessary for ensuring social equality in the country.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his intervention, said the bill is aimed at bringing about social equality and upliftment.
Opposition Congress leader Deepender Hooda questioned the timing of the bill, asking why it had been brought just before the elections.
TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said the bill is not only about jobs, but also about "misleading" the youth with false hopes and fake dreams.
He asked, "Why does the Government not take up the Women Reservation Bill with the same priority as this quota bill?"
The bill will benefit upper castes of not only Hindus but also Muslims and Christians, a government source said yesterday.
Among the Hindus, the castes which would benefit from the decision include Brahmin, Banya, Bhaiyya, Thakur's and Kayasthas, the source had said.