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The Constitution (103rd Amendment) Bill bill that seeks to provide 10 per cent reservation in jobs and education for the general category poor will be introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Lok Sabha passed the bill with 323 members voting in favour and three against. The opposition, including the Congress, dubbed the proposed law as a political gimmick that may not stand judicial scrutiny but came around to support it during voting, underlining the huge political import of the measure aimed at placating upper castes.

The bill seeks to amend Article 15 and 16 of the Constitution to enable reservation for the “economically weaker” sections in the general category, which had so far been kept out of the quota ambit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi were present in the Lower House when the bill was passed.

Replying to an over four and half hour debate, Social Justice Minister Thaavarchand Gehlot sought to allay doubts raised by several opposition members about the legislation’s fate if challenged in the Supreme Court, saying he can say with confidence that the apex court will accept it.

“Your doubts are unfounded. Put them to rest,” he told opposition members, many of whom dubbed the bill as “jumla” and “gimmick”, questioned its legal standing and accused the the government of bringing it in haste with an eye on the Lok Sabha polls.

The bar of 50 per cent put by the apex court on total reservation is for caste-based quota, while the bill seeks it provide it for the economically weaker sections in the general category, Jaitley said.

–India Legal Bureau

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