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Sunday, September 19, 2021

OBC Bill amendment fraud on states, hold caste count: Sharad Pawar

Pawar also sought the removal of the 50 per cent cap on reservations, and demanded that the Centre conduct a caste based census in the country.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: August 17, 2021 5:52:54 am
Sharad PawarSharad Pawar (file photo)

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Monday criticised the Centre for pushing through the 127th constitutional amendment that restores to states the power to make their own OBC lists, saying the move was akin to cheating the OBC community, which would not benefit from the move.

Pawar also sought the removal of the 50 per cent cap on reservations, and demanded that the Centre conduct a caste based census in the country.

“The majority of states have already passed the 50 per cent reservation limit. For these states it is impossible to meet the geographical and social parameters that have been set by the Supreme Court’s May 5, 2021 order. Therefore, giving states the right to exceed the 50% maximum reservation limit is a fraud that is being committed on the people,” Pawar told a press conference in Mumbai.

The 127th Constitution Amendment Act, 2021, restores the power of states to identify socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs), usually called OBCs. The Bill was passed to negate the Supreme Court’s interpretations of some provisions of the 102nd Constitution Amendment Act, which had inserted Articles 338B and 342A (with two clauses) after Article 342.

“Unless the 50 per cent cap is relaxed, the Maratha quota cannot be restored. Similarly, the empirical data on OBCs should be shared with the states. Unless the data are available, it cannot be known how much representation needs to be given to smaller castes,” Pawar said. He added that reservation in most of the states is already above 60 per cent.

Pawar said that even with the amendment, the states have no power to list the SEBCs. “There was an impression that with the Constitution amendment, states have again got the power to list SEBCs. But this is misleading, as the 50 per cent quota limit still exists,” Pawar said.

In spite of the amendment, therefore, states will not be able to provide quotas to OBCs and this was injustice, he said. “It is akin to inviting people to a banquet, tying their hands, and then asking them to eat,” Pawar said.

The NCP, he said, would take the lead to unite all OBCs and make them aware of the fine print of the amendment, and also create a pressure group to ensure changes were made to the amendment.

“The Centre should amend the Constitution and make necessary changes in Articles 15(4) and 16(4) to reduce the effectiveness of the Indra Sawhney judgment and increase the reservation limit beyond 50% and empower state governments to increase the reservation limit to more than 50 per cent,” Pawar said. The Supreme Court’s landmark 1992 Indra Sawhney vs Union of India judgment, also known as the Mandal judgment, had capped reservations at 50 per cent of total seats.

Pawar condemned the use of force by marshals in Rajya Sabha during Parliament’s tumultuous Monsoon Session as an “indirect attack on parliamentarians”. In his over half-century-long parliamentary career, he had never seen 40 marshals being deployed in the House, he said.

“The Government deployed seven ministers (before the media) who sought action against opposition MPs. The fact that they had to deploy seven ministers to justify their actions shows that they are on a weak wicket,” Pawar said.

On the Pegasus issue, Pawar said: “The Supreme Court has decided to set up a committee in the Pegasus case. People like Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Kapil Sibal, P Chidambaram have done a lot of study on this subject. My opinion is that taking one of the three in the committee will increase transparency. But this is entirely the prerogative of the Supreme Court.”

On the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, Pawar said the time had come to assess the working of India’s foreign policy with regard to neighbours.

“We used to have good relations with most of our neighbours earlier. However the dynamics are now changing. They have changed with Nepal, Bangladesh, as well as Sri Lanka. It is time for us to assess our foreign policy with our immediate neighbours.”

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