Centre must declare intent to include Bihar's quota hike laws in ninth schedule: Tejashwi

Centre must declare intent to include Bihar's quota hike laws in ninth schedule: Tejashwi

Patna, Nov 23 (PTI) Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav on Thursday demanded that the Centre immediately declare its intent to include in the ninth schedule of the Constitution the state's laws enhancing reservation for deprived castes to 65 per cent, which is beyond the Supreme Court's cap of 50 per cent.

Yadav raised the demand at a press conference a day after a proposal to include two amendment bills, increasing reservation from 50 per cent to 65 per cent in state government jobs and educational institutions, in the ninth schedule of the Constitution was passed by the cabinet to make the laws immune to legal scrutiny.

The RJD leader was joined at the press conference by several senior colleagues in the Nitish Kumar cabinet.

'The BJP-led government at the Centre headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi should immediately include both the laws in the ninth schedule of the Constitution. Both the amendment bills, that raised the quota, were passed by the state legislature during the winter session, days after the government tabled a detailed analysis of the caste survey report in the assembly.

'Since Bihar BJP leaders claim they also supported both bills in the assembly as well as the council, the Centre must make its intent clear on the issue without any delay,' said Yadav.

State Finance Minister and senior JD(U) leader Vijay Kumar Choudhary said the ninth schedule is a special provision in the Constitution of India that allows Parliament to exempt certain laws from judicial review through a constitutional amendment.

'Since Parliament is not in session, the Centre can presently make an announcement for putting the state's laws in the ninth schedule and when the winter session of Parliament starts from December 4, both laws can be included in the ninth schedule,' he said.

If the BJP-led central government is really interested in the welfare of the deprived castes, it must make an immediate announcement in this regard, he added.

Echoing a similar view, Ashok Choudhary, senior JD(U) leader and Bihar Building Construction Department Minister said, 'BJP leaders, who claim that they supported both the bills, must meet the PM for the immediate inclusion of the state's both laws in the ninth schedule in the Constitution.' The Nitish Kumar government on Tuesday had issued gazette notifications for raising the quota for deprived castes from 50 to 65 per cent in state government jobs and educational institutions, after receiving assent from Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar.

Both laws seek a hike in the quota for Scheduled Castes (SC) from 16 to 20 per cent, Scheduled Tribes (STs) from 1 to 2 per cent, extremely backward castes (EBCs) from 18 to 25 per cent and other backward classes (OBCs) from 15 to 18 per cent to elevate the quantum of caste-based reservations from 50 to 65 per cent.

The total quantum of reservation in jobs and educational institutions will now stand at 75 per cent in the state, after taking into account the 10 per cent already existing quota for economically weaker sections (EWS).

On the state cabinet on Wednesday passing a resolution on the state's demand for 'special status', the deputy CM said, 'The fresh demand was necessitated by findings of the caste survey. The state government has planned to undertake a number of welfare measures for the deprived families. The implementation of all such measures will incur an expenditure of Rs 2.50 lakh crore... therefore, we demand special status for Bihar.' 'If the PM does not want to give special status to Bihar, he should declare it publicly and then we will work in our own way for the development of the state. On several occasions in the past, the PM himself had announced that Bihar would get special status but what happened to that?' Yadav said.

When asked about the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission that clearly said that 'no special category status' should be given to any state, Yadav said, 'PM had spoken about special status... Bihar needs special financial assistance and special status.' Speaking on the issue, Choudhary, said, 'The substantial expansion of centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) in recent years has certainly put an extra financial burden on states like Bihar. Therefore, the state's demand for special status is completely justified.' Even after recommendations of 14th Finance Commission, special status to Bihar can be given, he said, adding, 'The NITI Aayog, the premier policy think tank of the central government that provides directional and policy inputs, talks about special assistance to the poorest states, including Bihar.' PTI PKD ACD

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