Jaisalmer observes half-day bandh over quota

The reservation issue is not going to die down in Rajasthan anytime soon. Jaisalmer today observed a half day bandh to protest against the 14% reservation for poorer sections of the Upper castes under the Economically Backward Class (EBC) bill passed recently.

The police said the markets were all closed till afternoon in support of the bandh call given by Samajik Nyay Manch Andolan. The Marwar Rajput Seva Samiti also participated in the bandh.The supporters urged the shop keepers to keep the markets shut to make the bandh successful and peaceful. The bandh was meant for the markets, the autos and other public transport were plying on the road. Yesterday, Pokhran also observed a bandh over the issue.

These organisations claim that the state government is misguiding the people as the Centre cannot implement the bill until the Parliament make amendments in the Constitution, which is a long drawn process. They also demanded that till the 14% reservation to economically backward class clears the legal hurdles, the said quota should be kept aside in government jobs. Also this process would entail changes in the basic list of Other Backward Classes ( OBC), which they want to protect.

Last month the Rajasthan government had cleared two Bills , providing 5% quota in government jobs and educational institutions for the Specially Backward Class (SBC) and 14% quota for the poor of the Upper Castes under EBC Bill.

In 2008, the BJP government under Vasundhara Raje government had passed the Rajasthan SC, ST, BC, SBC and EBC (Reservation of seats in educational institutions in the state and of appointments and posts in services under the state) Act, providing for 5% reservation to Gujjars, Banjaras, Raikas, Gadarias and Gadia Lohars, and 14% to the poorer sections among forward castes. However, the High Court stayed the implementation of the Act in 2010.

So this time in 2015, the Raje government prepared two separate Bills through the Assembly, one each for SBC and EBC quota. The government hopes that the SBC Act would be able to withstand judicial scrutiny, on the grounds of additional quota under exceptional circumstances.

However, the Constitution till now identifies only four such classes — SCs, STs, Backward Classes and Anglo Indians — and the insertion of new classes like EBCs are likely to be deemed illegal, experts say.
The state government is likely to recommend to the Centre to insert the two new quota Acts in the XI Schedule of the Constitution, thus shielding them from judicial scrutiny. However, the Supreme Court, in I R Coelho v State of Tamil Nadu, ruled that laws that violated the basic structure of the Constitution would be open to judicial review, including any law added to the Ninth Schedule after April 24, 1973.

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