President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday signed into law the 124th Constitution Amendment Bill, which provides for 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections in the general category, as reported by news agency ANI.
With this, the total percentage of the reservation will go up to 60, surpassing the 50 per cent ceiling prescribed by the Supreme Court.
The Parliament had passed the bill on Wednesday. The bill was approved by the Rajya Sabha, with 165 votes in favour and seven against on Wednesday while the Lok Sabha had passed it a day earlier with 323 votes in favour and 3 against.
The reservation is meant for individuals belonging to economically-weaker sections whose annual earning is below Rs 8 lakh and who possess less than 5 acres of agriculture land.
The Bill was approved after the House rejected a motion moved by Kanimozhi (DMK) and supported by Left parties for sending it to Parliamentary select committee for scrutiny. Against 18 members supporting, 155 opposed it and one member abstained. The Bill was approved after the House rejected 5 amendments moved by Opposition members.
The quota will be over and above the existing 50 per cent reservation to SCs, STs and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
Replying to the nearly eight-hour-long debate in Rajya Sabha, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot asked Congress how it would have implemented the promise it made in its election manifesto of giving reservation to poor of the general category but by amending the Constitution. He said reservation to SC, ST and OBCs will not be touched by the amendment and opposition parties should have supported the legislation without any ifs and buts.
The changes in the Constitution is made to provide the reservation will hold scrutiny of the Supreme Court, he hoped.
Filling up of jobs reserved for SC/STs and OBCs is an ongoing process, he said, adding the bill was an attempt to benefit poor of the general category who have been deprived so far.
While opposition parties questioned the motive behind bringing the legislation just four months before the general elections, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad used the cricketing analogy to justify the move saying 'sixes are hit only in the slog overs' and said more such "sixers" are in the pipeline.