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President Ram Nath Kovind has signed off on The Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019 which introduces a ten percent reservation for those belonging to economically weaker sections of society.
A notification issued today intimates that the President has accorded his assent for the amendment of Articles 15 and 16 of the Indian Constitution in order to incorporate the economic reservation policy envisioned by the 124th Constitutional Amendment Bill that was passed in the Parliament earlier this week.
Article 15 has been amended to provide reservations to economically weaker sections for admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of Article 30. This reservation is capped at ten percent.
Accordingly, the following clause has been inserted into Article 15 of the Constitution:
“(6) Nothing in this article or sub-clause (g) of clause (1) of article 19 or clause (2) of article 29 shall prevent the State from making,—
(a) any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clauses (4) and (5); and
(b) any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clauses (4) and (5) in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of article 30, which in the case of reservation would be in addition to the existing reservations and subject to a maximum of ten per cent. of the total seats in each category.
Explanation.—For the purposes of this article and article 16, “economically weaker sections” shall be such as may be notified by the State from time to time on the basis of family income and other indicators of economic disadvantage.’”
Apart from this, Article 16 is also amended to provide reservations to people from economically weaker sections in government posts. The following clause has also been inserted into Article 16 of the Constitution:
“(6) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clause (4), in addition to the existing reservation and subject to a maximum of ten per cent. of the posts in each category.“.
This development comes in the backdrop of a Constitutional challenge being made to the Bill before the Supreme Court.
Following the hurried passage of the Bill earlier this week by the Parliament, NGO Youth for Equality moved the Supreme Court, contending that the proposed economic reservation violates the Basic Structure of the Constitution.
The Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha three days earlier with 165 MPs voting for the Bill and 7 voting against it, after its passage in the Lok Sabha a day prior.
The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states that people from economically weaker sections of the society have largely remained excluded from attending the higher educational institutions and public employment on account of their financial incapacity to compete with the persons who are economically more privileged.
Reference was made to Article 46 of the Constitution of India, a Directive Principle that urges the government to protect the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of society. While socially disadvantaged sections have enjoyed affirmative action, no such benefit was provided to the economically weaker sections, the Bill states.
“With a view to fulfil the mandate of article 46, and to ensure that economically weaker sections of citizens to get a fair chance of receiving higher education and participation in employment in the services of the State, it has been decided to amend the Constitution of India.”
Read the Gazette Notification intimating Presidential Assent for the Economic Reservation Bill, 2019:
Read the Full Text of the Bill: