Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh made history Sunday night by passing a bill to give statutory status to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribe sub-plans, ensuring allocation of funds to these sections in proportion to their population.
The law will also ensure total utilization of funds allocated to these sections in the planned budget.
The state assembly passed Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan/Scheduled Tribe Sub-Plan Planning, Allocation and Utilization of Financial Resources Bill 2012, making it the first state in the country to have such legislation. The bill was brought as the funds were either not being utilized or diverted for other purposes.
After two-day debate, the bill was passed at 11 p.m. after the amendment moved by the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) was defeated after it was put to vote.
The bill was passed but not before some anxious moments faced by the ruling Congress party. TDP moved an amendment to the bill to ensure allocation of funds for scheduled castes on the basis of their categorization into A, B, C, D classes.
As the government wanted the bill to be passed in the same format as it was presented, the TDP pressed for a division.
In a rare show of unity, the opposition Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), YSR Congress Party, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Lok Satta supported the bill.
Speaker N Manohar allowed the voting. Even as the division was on, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy found fault with the decision to conduct voting on the ground that categorization of SC reservations was not under implementation.
He pointed out that the Supreme Court in 2004 had struck down as unconstitutional a legislation splitting the quota in government jobs for SCs among their four sub-groups.
TDP leader Ashok Gajapati Raju demanded that the advocate general be called to the house to seek his opinion.
The speaker ignored the objection raised by the chief minister and announced the result of division. The amendment was lost with 47 members voting in favour of it and 67 opposing it.