MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Prof. Rasa Singh Rawat, you are a senior Member. You are getting up and saying whatever you like.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Hon. Members, please listen to me. Shri Ramdas Athawale, when I am standing on my legs, you will have to resume your seat.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Hon. Members, what I said is that the hon. Member has narrated his experience. It is not unparliamentary. Why are you getting agitated? Therefore, do not interrupt him like this. It is his maiden speech. I do not expect it from some of you who are senior Members of this House.
SHRI RAJESH PILOT : He did not say that. He said about the position in 1942. He quoted the example of 1942. He did not say that it happened now...(Interruptions)
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: What is happening in the House?
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Kharabela Swain, I warn you. I have to take you to task. Do not get up like this and then say anything and everything that you like.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Nothing will go on record except the speech of Shri Pravin Chandra Rashtrapal.
* Not Recorded.
SHRI PRAVIN RASHTRAPAL : Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, I want to invite the specific attention of the Law Minister. One thing happened last year and it is one of the most serious issues..(Interruptions)
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: You have to address the Chair and not the Law Minister.
SHRI PRAVIN RASHTRAPAL :Sir, through you, I want to invite the attention of the Law Minister to this. In the previous Government, he was not the Law Minister. Appointment of Judges was to be made. A file was referred from the Supreme Court through the Law Ministry to the hon. President of the country. The hon. President made the remarks on the said file. He said that while considering the names of the Judges for the Supreme Court, due consideration should be given to the Judges belonging to the Scheduled Caste, the Scheduled Tribe, women and the weaker sections of the society. The President has given large scope. He referred to Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the weaker sections of the society as well as women too. This covers 90 per cent population of our country. The point is that a note written by the President on the file was leaked to one of the leading English Weeklies, the India Today. The Law Minister replied that he has not leaked the information. The President will never leak the information. I want the present Law Minister to inquire into the matter to find out who leaked that information. The magazine went further and wrote about the conduct of the President of India for giving this suggestion.
THE MINISTER OF LAW, JUSTICE AND COMPANY AFFAIRS (SHRI RAM JETHMALANI): Will the hon. Member yield for a minute?
A person belonging to the Scheduled Caste was appointed as a judge and his judgeship was terminated under unfortunate circumstances. I have reviewed that decision and I have seen to it that that judge is being considered for re-appointment.
SHRI PRAVIN RASHTRAPAL : But I am not referring to the appointment of a particular judge. I am referring to the suggestion given by the President of India.
SHRI RAM JETHMALANI: Is it necessary to find out who leaked what? It is totally irrelevant.
SHRI PRAVIN RASHTRAPAL : So, it means there is no reservation in the Judiciary. A person who is fit to become a judge in the High Court is not fit to become a judge in the Supreme Court. This is the irony in our judicial system and also in the reservation policy.
I would further like to say that the Ruling Party is in a hurry to bring a Bill to have a fixed term for the Lok Sabha, as is the case with the Rajya Sabha. If they like the term of the Rajya Sabha very much, why are they not going to the Rajya Sabha first and then come to the Lok Sabha? In a democracy, why are they in so much of a hurry? (Interruptions)
SHRI PRAVIN RASHTRAPAL : In this House, there are 119 elected Members belonging to the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribe. This is possible only because of reservation given to the people belonging to these classes under our Constitution.
Sir, according to me, there are various kinds of reservations like reservation in education, particularly at higher levels, reservation in State Assemblies, reservation in services, reservation in Lok Sabha etc. In fact, personally I attach more importance to reservation benefits and privileges which are given to the people belonging to the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribe in the field of education. I give second preference to the reservation scheme in Government services and I give third preference to the reservation scheme in the State Assemblies and the Lok Sabha.
I would like to request the hon. Law Minister, through you, to inquire into the details as to why there is no case or no petition filed against the reservation system for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the State Assemblies and the Lok Sabha. Why is nobody going to court against this reservation policy and why do they go to court only against the reservation policy for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the field of education and in Government services? It is because the reservation provided in this House will give benefit to 119 persons and no political party in this country can afford to lose the support of 119 Members in this House.
Sir, I am afraid that the moment this reservation is removed, there will hardly be 20 or 25 Members belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in this House. So, we want a permanent mechanism to protect the interests of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes who are the original inhabitants of this country. They are not nomads. Some people have left their motherland for greener pastures. We do not belong to that class. We never leave our motherland and go to other countries to earn money. We always serve our country. So, I want that there should be a permanent mechanism to protect the interests of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in this country.
Sir, we should appreciate as to why reservation is given to the Scheduled Tribes. We should remember that it is not given to the people belonging to a particular religion, but it is given to the people who are residing, geographically, in the most difficult terrains like the hilly areas and forests. There may be a Hindu Scheduled Tribe, there may be a Christian Scheduled Tribe and there may be a Muslim Scheduled Tribe. So, the reservation is given to them according to the areas of their residence whereas the reservation to the Scheduled Castes is given only on the basis of their caste, because of their birth place and also because they were treated as untouchables in this country for thousands of years.
I agree that after Independence, the situation has improved. But even now, consider the situation in small villages in the northern parts of the country, that is, particularly in States like Rajasthan, Bihar and Gujarat. I know that the situation in the southern States is better. I have travelled all over the country. In Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, the situation may be better because of urbanisation and all these things. But you must take into consideration the entire country. I will not take much time of the House.
Now, I am only showing the debate which took place during the time of the Twelfth Lok Sabha. I do not want to go into the details. It is running into 60 pages. I have purchased a copy today. I have also to pay money for that. A Member of Parliament cannot get a paper of the previous Lok Sabha without making payment! It is all right. I want to invite attention to this matter. I paid Rs. 60 for getting it photocopied. I request the Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs that at least a Member of Parliament coming from a reserved constituency should be exempted! It is in a lighter vein. Do not worry about it.
I am only referring to an assurance given by the hon. Prime Minister who is not present here. The House should also take a serious note that the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, who is much worried about cats and dogs, is also not present here. In fact, this is a subject when she should have remained in the House. If what has been said by my colleague, Shri Buta Singh, is true, this House should pass a resolution. The photograph of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar removed by Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment from his office room should be restored. Let this House decide that if the photograph of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar has been removed from the room of that Minister, it should be restored in that place. That should be the responsibility of the Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs who is present during this discussion.
Now, I quote what has been said by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee:
"Two of these Memoranda are currently under adjudication of the Supreme Court. We would welcome the formation of a Committee of Members of Parliament who would go into the subject and assist the Government in this regard. The Government is committed to maintain the system of reservation that has been followed so far and is prepared to bring forward a legislation even to amend the Constitution if required to do so."
I request the Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs to take a serious note of the assurance given by the hon. Prime Minister on 18th March, 1999 during the time of the Twelfth Lok Sabha. What has happened after this promise in the Supreme Court is known to everybody. I do not want to go into the details.
I support the Bill moved by the hon. Minister. But I request him that such a Bill should not be introduced at the deadline of its expiry. When we know that the expiry date is in January, the Bill should always be brought six months in advance of the expiry date.
With these words, I thank you and conclude.
SHRI ANANDA MOHAN BISWAS (NABADWIP): Hon. Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, I am a new Member in this House. It is my maiden speech. I belong to a vulnerable section of the society. Therefore, I am very much interested in this matter. On behalf of myself and on behalf of the All-India Trinamool Congress, I welcome the Constitutional Amendment Bill placed before the House by the hon. Minister, Shri Ram Jethmalani.
This is a provision about reservation. It has got no perpetuity. It is a temporary measure as envisaged in our Constitution.
The Government has to review the real position and ground reality whether the weaker sections of the society, especially the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have reached the goal so far as the reservation is concerned.
Article 46 of our Constitution is the key note and it is a constitutional commitment and the Government has to ensure the all round development of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and to protect them from all sorts of exploitation. The reservation is not only limited to the Government service or Government Departments only, it has got an enormous scope. Its jurisdiction is very much wide and the reservation has to be maintained in the public sector undertakings, educational institutions, statutory bodies and to some extent in the private institutions also where the concessions in terms of funds are extended to those institutions.
But unfortunately, the Government has not yet built-up any mechanism to review and assess the ground reality to see whether the prescribed percentage has been reached till date or not. But there is an in-built mechanism in the Constitution itself under Article 338 and the Constitution has been amended, i.e. the 65th Amendment, and a National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has been set up to oversee whether the Constitutional rights of these sections have been protected or not and that the judicial power has been restored to the constitutional body. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court's judgement has taken away that power.
I would like to draw the attention of the hon. Minister that the Commission can assess whether the prescribed percentage has been reached or not. To some extent, they can issue summons and examine all the relevant papers and record the statements of the concerned authorities.
SHRI SUDIP BANDYOPADHYAY (CALCUTTA NORTH-WEST): Sir, the Cabinet Minister is not present in the House. Who is taking down the notes? Sir, Shri Biswas was a Member of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission also.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: I think, the hon. Minister is there and he is taking down the notes.
SHRI ANANDA MOHAN BISWAS (NABADWIP): But I am not saying that the Supreme Court judgement is a judicial activism because in our Constitution there is a provision for judiciary's independence. But I think, the judiciary is not above Parliament. In that Judgement, it has been principally laid down that the Commission has got the right to summon any person, any authority defaulting or disallowing that provision for reservation. The Hon'ble SuprememCourt held that this powr is only for the purposes of annual report. So, this power is with the Commission but the same is ineffective.
Sir, I would like to draw your kind attention regarding the criteria for fixation of the reservation quota. It has been provided in our Constitution that on the pro-rata population basis the reservation quote should be fixed. But till date the quota for the Scheduled Castes is 15 per cent and the reservation quote for the Scheduled Tribes is only 7.5 per cent as per the 1981 census. I would request the Government to review the matter. As per the 1991 census the Scheduled Castes population has risen to 24 per cent, so the reservation quota for the Scheduled Castes ought to be increased from 15 per cent to 24 per cent vis-a-vis the reservation quota for the Scheduled Tribes ought to be increased from 7.5 per cent to 10 per cent. But at the end of year 2000 it will increase more in the both cases.
Secondly, reservation should be given not only in the services but also in the educational institutions. Article 15(4) of our Constitution provides that the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe people must get admission in all the educational institutions. So, it is not a magnanimity; it is not a concession; it is not a charity of some quarters but I think it is the Constitutional right of the vulnerable sections of the society, especially, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
Sir, I draw your attention to the atrocities being inflicted upon all the vulnerable sections of the society. After attaining 50 years of our Independence, we think that till now this section of society is under the oppression of some classes of vested interests.
Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, long, long back in the year 1956, following article 17 of our Constitution, this august House had enacted an Act under the nomenclature of Civil Rights Act to eradicate untouchability. This falls under the perview of regular criminal proceeding, and under this, there is a provision for adjudication through a special judge. But I think till today not even a single exemplary punishment has been given to any vested interest following the course of this enactment.
Sir, there is another enactment of this House. That Act is called the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. That Act was passed in 1989 in this august House. I am saying this out of my own experience. I have had the privilege to become one of the members of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. I had the occasion to visit the different parts of our country. It is curious to note that the police personnel have got no knowledge regarding these Acts. When the people, being the victim of the atrocity, approached the police, the police registered a case under the provision of Indian Penal Code without taking into consideration the provision of these Acts. These is a provision in these Acts provides for compensation to the victim of atrocity who belongs to the Scheduled Caste community. There is also a provision that compensation should be given to all those victims from the State exchequer. I think the Government has to take note of this to make the police personnel aware of these two Acts so as to protect the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe people.
I would draw the attention of the nodal Ministry that there must be some executive mechanism to evaluate whether the prescribed percentage of reservation has reached or not. According to me, in the Group A services, only six per cent Scheduled Caste persons is there; in Group B, their percentage is only eight; and in the Group D Services, it is above 15 per cent, including the sweepers and those who are working under contractors. So, there is a backlog with groups A&B.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Please conclude now.
SHRI ANANDA MOHAN BISWAS (NABADWIP): So, the prescribed percentage of reservation in Groups A & B has not yet been reached. So long as it is not reaching, this reservation will be a continuous process.
I would like to draw your attention that in 1996-97, five hard hitting circulars were issued by the Department of Personnel and Training curtailing the right of reservation given to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe peoples . It is nothing but burocratic activism. The then Govt. did not apply mind into this circular.
1644 hours (Mr. Speaker in the Chair)
In Indira Sawhney's case, there is a verdict from the Hon'ble Supreme Court that under no circumstances, the reservation will not exceed 50 per cent. Whereas the Indira Sawhney's case does not relate to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities, it relates to the other Backward Class communities. In Indira Sawhney's case, the Hon'ble Supreme Court's verdict is that there shall be no reservation in promotion.