The Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed by both houses of the parliament

The Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 which was introduced in the Lok Sabha onthJanuary 2019 by the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Mr. Thaawar Chand Gehlot, was passed by the Lok Sabha on the very same day and was passed by the Rajya Sabha as well on the very next day i.e. thJanuary 2019. For it to become enforceable, now, only the assent of the President is required.

What’s new ?

Addition of a new clause in Article 15 of the Constitution namely Article 15(6) shall be added as per which nothing in Article 15 or Article 19(1)(g) or Article 29(2) shall prevent the state from making:

(a) any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in Article 15(4) and 15(5); and

(b) any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in Article 15(4) and Article 15(5) in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in Article 30(1), which in the case of reservation would be in addition to the existing reservations and subject to a maximum of ten per cent. of the total seats in each category.

Addition of a new clause in Article 16 of the Constitution namely Article 16(6) shall be added as per which nothing in Article 16 of the constitution shall prevent the state from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in Article 16(4), in addition to the existing reservation and subject to a maximum of ten per cent. of the posts in each category.

Why this amendment ?

As per the statement of object and reasons:

  • At present, the economically weaker sections of citizens have largely remained excluded from attending the higher educational institutions and public employment on account of their financial incapacity to compete with the persons who are economically more privileged. The benefits of existing reservations under Article 15(4), Article 15(5) and Article 16(4) are generally unavailable to them unless they meet the specific criteria of social and educational backwardness.
  • Economically weaker sections of citizens were not eligible for the benefit of reservation. With a view to
    • fulfil the mandate of The directive principles of State policy contained in Article 46 of the Constitution which enjoins that the State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
    • and to ensure that economically weaker sections of citizens to get a fair chance of receiving higher education and participation in employment in the services of the State,

it has been decided to amend the Constitution of India.

Purview of “economically weaker sections” ?

As per the proviso to Article 15, for the purposes of Article 15 and Article 16, “economically weaker sections” shall be such as may be notified by the State from time to time on the basis of family income and other indicators of economic disadvantage.

Copy of bill: Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019

-Tushar Kaushik

Update: On 12.01.2019, this bill received the assent of the President and it has been enacted as the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019. It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.

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