The Constitution Amendment Bill, which was passed in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, extended the reservation provided for SCs and STs communities in Parliament and Assemblies but provides for stopping the nomination of Anglo-Indians to Lok Sabha and certain State Assemblies.
The Opposition protested and said the move is a “fraud on Constitution” and takes away the rights given to the Anglo-Indian community by the Constituent Assembly.
In the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Amendment) Bill, 2019, Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said that Article 334 of the Constitution lays down the provisions for the reservation of seats for the SCs and the STs and the representation of the Anglo-Indian community and those provisions will cease to have effect on the January 25, 2020 if not extended further.
Prasad said, “Although the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes have made considerable progress in the last 70 years, the reasons which weighed with the Constituent Assembly in making provisions with regard to the aforesaid reservation of seats have not yet ceased to exist.”
He added, “Therefore, with a view to retaining the inclusive character as envisioned by the founding fathers of the Constitution, it is proposed to continue the reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes for another ten years, i.e., up to Jnauary 25, 2030.”
Replying to the debate, he said: “At the moment, we have not come up with the matter related to extension of reservation for the Anglo-Indian community.” He said said the doors are not shut on the issue of stopping nomination of Anglo-Indians to Lok Sabha and assemblies and said it will be considered later by the Centre.
Talking to reporters, Congress spokesperson and MP, Manish Tewari, said the Centre took away the rights of Anglo-Indians, which were provided by the Constituent Assembly. “It is a fraud on Constitution. The Congress will oppose it,” said Tewari.
During the debate too, Opposition members questioned the legislation. “I object to the government’s effort to obliterate the representation of one community and for this, the Minister has taken recourse to a false report of Registrar General of India,” said Trinamool Congress’ MP Saugata Roy. “What BR Ambedkar gave, Ravi Shankar Prasad wants to take away,” he added.
DMK’s K Kanimozhi questioned the Centre’s claim based on the Registrar General’s report that there are just 296 Anglo-Indians in the country now. She said the number of Anglo-Indians may be shrinking, but it cannot be as low as 296 as Tamil Nadu itself will have few thousand people from the community.
“How could the Centre unilaterally remove this as 13 States have this provision. This government is hurting the federal structure,” she asked. “Where is the time for the government to introduced another Bill for extending extending reservation for the community as the session will end of Friday,” asked BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab.
Hibi Eden of the Congress charged Prasad of misleading the House. “In my constituency (Ernakulam) there are 20,000 people of this community,” he said.