The Rajya Sabha Monday passed a constitution amendment bill to provide reservations in promotions for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs), with the Samajwadi Party expressing its opposition to the legislation.
The Constitution (One Hundred Seventeenth Amendment) Bill, 2012 was passed with 206 members voting for it and 10 voting against it at the end of a debate spread over two days in which 34 members took part.
The bill was put to vote by Chairman M. Hamid Ansari after the government agreed to suggestions of the Bharatiya Janata Party that the pre-condition of judging efficiency of a person, irrespective of his caste, should be maintained though the standards could be lowered for weaker sections.
The government also agreed to the suggestion that there will be no demotion due to retrospective provisions in the bill.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told IANS after the passage of the bill in the Rajya Sabha that it was likely to be listed for discussion in the Lok Sabha Wednesday.
In his reply to the debate in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension V. Narayanasamy said all parties had expressed support for the bill except the Samajwadi Party and the Shiv Sena.
He said the concept of reservation in promotion was not new and added that it will be to the extent of existing quota in jobs for SCs and STs.
Reeling out statistics, Narayanasamy said that of the 102 secretary-level officers in the union government, none belonged to the Scheduled Castes. He said out of the 113 posts of additional secretaries, five were from the Scheduled Castes while one was from the Scheduled Tribes and none of them was from the other backward classes (OBCs).
He said the percentage of SCs in A, B, C categories of government jobs was 11.5 percent, 14.9 percent and 17.5 percent, respectively.
"The same situation is in states," he said.
"The SCs and STs are backward per se from our side," he added.
The bill, a major demand of the Bahujan Samaj Party, had seen vociferous opposition from the SP members who stalled proceedings of the house on several occasions.
BSP leader Mayawati almost forced the issue by accusing the government of not being serious about the bill and even making remarks about the chair last week.
Some of her remarks were later expunged and she expressed her full faith in the chairman.
The debate started Thursday after high drama following the SP's strong resistance to the bill. Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien named two members of the party and even kept the marshals ready for their eviction.
After repeated admonitions from the chair, the SP members staged a walk out Thursday. However, they remained present in the house Monday.
The SP has nine members in the upper house. Speaking during the debate Monday, party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said that people were against the concept of "consequential seniority".
He said consequential seniority caused heart burn among people and the parties supporting the bill would face wrath of people during elections.
Independent member Mohammed Adeeb also opposed the bill. Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan was among those who spoke strongly in favour of the bill.
The amendments to the bill were passed with 206 in favour and 10 against.
The bill seeks to provide impediment-free reservation in promotion to SCs and STs .