Rajya Sabha rejects resolution to treat SC, ST equally across states


Mosoon Session

A private resolution seeking an amendment to the Constitution for equal treatment of SCs and STs across the country was negated in Rajya Sabha on Friday.

The resolution sought amending the Constitution to ensure that persons belonging to SCs and STs in one state should be regarded the same across the country to avail the benefits of reservation.

It also highlighted that the people belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes or Denotified Castes were being deprived of facilities and concessions and neglected because of the lack of a uniform reservation system in the entire country.

The resolution, moved by Vishambhar Prasad Nishad (SP), was put to vote, as many as 66 members voted against it as against 32 in favour.

Intervening in the debate Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot urged the member to withdraw the resolution saying “there is a process laid out by Parliament for inclusion and exclusion of caste in list of SCs, STs and OBCs.”

As per the procedure, the proposal for inclusion or exclusion of a caste in the list of SC and ST is to be sent by the states.

After approval by the Registrar General of India and the SC or ST Commission, a bill is prepared which is put up before the Cabinet and subsequently before Parliament for approval, the Minister said.

Dissatisfied with minister’s response on the resolution, Nishad pressed for voting and later a division on the bill.

When Deputy Chariman Harivansh ordered the procedure for voting on the resolution to begin, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad intervened and said the rules do not permit voting on a resolution and it was “unprecedented”.

The Deputy Chairman said “Once the process (of voting) is started, it cannot be stopped.”

Soon after the voting on the resolution which was negated, the opposition members shouted slogans like ‘Dalit virodhi log hai, hai (down with those opposing the downtrodden sections).

On this, an agitated Prasad said “You people are Dalit Virodhi.” The opposition members then demanded that the remarks of the Minister be expunged.

Rakesh Sinha (nominated) and D Raja (CPI) among others participated in the debate on the resolution. While moving the resolution, Nishad urged the government to bring in a legislation to amend the Constitution so that the persons belonging to SC/ST category in one state may be treated as the person of that SC/ST category all over the country to get the benefit of the reservation.

Veer Singh (BSP) said people from the SC/ST categories were unable to avail benefits of reservation after migrating to another state, and therefore, a caste certificate must be issued to them. He said this was a “very serious problem” which should be addressed urgently.

Singh said the reservation quota should be increased in line with the addition of new categories in the list of those entitled to avail the benefits of reservation.

He said since the government was privatising some PSUs, the benefits of reservation must be extended to SC/ST/OBC categories in the private sector as well.

Pradeep Tamta (Cong) said when a person applies to the state services for a job after migrating to a state other than his home state, he is unable to avail the benefit of reservation.

However, the same person can avail this benefit while applying to central services. This dichotomy must end, he said.

Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD) supported the resolution and batted for caste-based data collected for the census 2011 to be made public. “We are not begging the private sector to introduce caste-based reservation,” Jha said, adding that private sector too avails benefits like tax holidays.

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh also supported the resolution. Rakesh Sinha (Nominated) said the government must set up a permanent commission to address the issues related to nomadic tribes. He observed that the dream of a caste-free India has not yet been fulfilled.