Bihar SC, ST MLAs demand quota be brought under 9th Schedule

Patna, May 8 (PTI) Notwithstanding a coronavirus lockdown, SC and ST legislators from all parties in in Bihar protested on Friday against the recent Supreme Court order asking the Centre to revise the list of reserved categories to provide quotas so that benefits trickle down to the needy.

The mask-wearing legislators, from the ruling as well as the opposition parties, demanded that the reservation meant for them be included in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, so that it cannot be challenged in the courts.

The all-party meeting was organized in the assembly premises and chaired by Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) president and former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and Bihar Industries Minister Shyam Rajak. It was attended by 22 out of the 41 SC and ST legislators in the assembly.

Others present during the meeting included Rajesh Kumar (Congress), Shiv Chandra Ram, Rajendra Ram (RJD), Satyadeo Ram (CPI-ML), Lalan Paswan (JDU) besides Ramprit Paswan and Niranjan Ram (BJP). They claimed those who could not attend the meeting due to personal reasons hold similar views.

Rajak said social distancing norms were followed during the meeting.

The Supreme Courts on April 23 asked the central government to revise the lists for providing quota. It said reservations are provided due to discrimination and disadvantages suffered by backward classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for sharing the State power.

The court agreed with the submissions that it can be done without disturbing the percentage of reservation so that benefits trickle down to the needy and are not usurped by those classes who have come up after obtaining the benefits for the last 70 years or after their inclusion in the list.

The legislators said they would meet the President of India and the Prime Minister in support of their demand of including reservation for SCs and STs in the Ninth Schedule.

Rajak said the apex court judgment virtually advocated for implementing the provision of creamy layer in the reservation meant for SCs and STs which is certainly a 'cause of concern for all of us and that's why we sat to deliberate the matter'.

'We have written a letter to President, Prime Minister and Bihar Chief Minister, drawing their attention towards the recent Supreme Court judgements which are against the rights and protection of SC and ST that have been conferred upon them by the Constitution.

'We have demanded that the provision for reservation for SCs and STs be kept in the 9th Schedule, Rajak said.

As per the provisions of the 9th Schedule, the central and state laws kept in this list cannot be challenged in courts.

'Our battle for putting pressure on the government to keep reservation in the 9th Schedule will be expedited once the lockdown is over,' said Rajesh Kumar, the Congress chief whip in the assembly.

The legislators also resolved to demand reservation for SCs and STs in the high courts and the Supreme Court, Kumar said.

It has been decided to seek time to meet the President, Prime Minister and Bihar CM for submitting a memorandum in this regard, JD(U) MLA Lalan Paswan said.

He added that another similar meeting of all SC and ST legislators will be held again on May 18 in the assembly premises. PTI AR SNS ABH ABH