126th Constitutional Amendment
The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Law and Justice, Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, on December 9, 2019.
The Bill amends provisions related to reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
The Constitution provides for reservation of seats for SCs and STs and representation of the Anglo-Indian community by nomination, in Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies of states. This has been provided for a period of 70 years since the enactment of the Constitution and will expire on January 25, 2020. The Bill seeks to extend the reservation for SCs and STs by another 10 years till January 25, 2030.
The amendment does not, however, extend the period of reservation of the 2 Lok Sabha seats reserved for members of the Anglo-Indian Community and thus the practice of nominating two members of the Anglo-Indian community by the President of India under the recommendation of the Prime Minister of India was effectively abolished.
The bill was unanimously passed by the Lok Sabha on the 10th of December 2019 with 355 votes in favour and 0 votes against. The bill was then tabled in the Rajya Sabha and was also passed unanimously on the 12th of December 2019 with 163 votes in favour and 0 votes against. The bill received assent from President Ram Nath Kovind on the 21st of January 2020 and was notified in The Gazette of India on the next day. The amendment came into effect on the 25th of January 2020.
Need for ratification by the states?
The bill to extend reservation of seats for SC/STs in the house of people and state assemblies will not need ratification by half the state assemblies unlike the Constitutional Amendment Bill to implement a common goods and services tax in the country.
As per the article 368 of the Constitution, the Parliament has powers to amend, repeal or cause variation in any part of the constitution as per the procedure given in the Constitution. However, in some special cases, it requires ratification by half the state assemblies, particularly for amending those provisions, that are listed under clause (2) of Article 368.
As per article 368, clause (2), sub-clauses (a) to (e), the government will require support of at least half of state assemblies if it seeks to amend the provisions of article 54, 55, 73, 162, 241 and article 279A or any provisions mentioned in the 4th chapter of Part V, or the fifth chapter of Part VI of the Constitution or the provisions listed in the 1st chapter of part XI.
Parliament also requires ratification by half the states if it wishes to make any changes in the lists mentioned in the seventh schedule of the constitution or proposes to change the representation of states in Parliament.
The Parliament will also require the support of half the state assemblies if the Union government seeks to amend any provision of Article 368 itself.
In this case, the government has only amended article 334 listed in the Part XVI of Indian Constitution that basically limits the special provision of reservation of seats for SC/STs and Anglo-Indians in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies to 70 years after the commencement of the Constitution.
The 126th Constitutional Amendment Bill does not amend any provisions covered under Article 368, clause (2), sub-clauses (a) to (e) that requires ratification by at least half of the states assemblies.
The bill will amend the Constitution after receiving the Presidential assent once it is passed in the Rajya Sabha by a majority of its members and not less than two-thirds of its members present and voting.