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Rajya Sabha passes Bill to extend SCs/STs quota

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Bill to make India arbitration hub get Parliamentary nodNew Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) Paving the way for extending reservations in the legislatures to the SCs and the STs for another 10 years, the Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The House was gripped in uncertainty and suspense ahead of the voting, while Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was replying to the debate on the Bill.

Objecting to the Minister’s remark, Congress members stood up and protested. To maintain order in the House, Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu appealed them not to interrupt. When they continued to protest, Naidu said they (Congress) had been in power for over 40 years and hence must have the patience to listen.

On this, the Congress members walked out of the House. Given that it was a Constitution amendment Bill, the presence of the Congress was required.

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A Constitution amendment Bill needs to be passed in each House by a special majority, which means a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of members “present and voting”.

The suspense deepened as the Congress members stayed out. At last, the Chairman appealed them to come back and participate in the voting. He also assured to remove part of remarks, from either side, if found to be objectionable.

After returning, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress) said they had been hurt and would not have come back if it was not a Bill for SCs and STs. “We are all senior people. We have been Chief Ministers and Ministers for decades together. Sometimes we also don’t want to be treated as students,” Azad said.

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While they respect the Chair, they also expected some respect from the Chair, he added.

The reservation to the SCs and the STs is to end on January 25, 2020.

As the reservation for the Anglo-Indian community was not being extended, the Congress, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and other parties members demanded its continuance.

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Replying to it, the Law Minister said the issue was under consideration. “I would like to acknowledge the contribution of the Anglo-Indian community in the field of education, armed forces and others,” the Minister said.

Introducing the Bill, Prasad had said there were positive mandate in the Constitution for the SCs and the STs, but in case of the Anglo-Indians it was a presidential nomination. “It’s a power of nomination,” he said.

The Bill has already been passed by the Lok Sabha.

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