August 10, 2021
Kalyan Bandyopadhyay speaks in support of The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021
Sir, we fully support The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021. I also appreciate the amendment of Article 342A of the Constitution. The state enjoys the power to take ameliorative measures to take care of the qualitative and quantitative differences between different classes. Our Constitution is an effective tool for social transformation and removal of inequalities, and has the capacity to wipe off the tears from every eye. The social realities cannot be ignored and overlooked since the Constitution aims at the comprehensive removal of disparities. The very purpose of providing reservation is to take care of disparities, which is the case with scheduled castes, scheduled tribe and socially backward classes.
The aspiration of equal treatment to the lowest strata, to which the fruits of reservation have not effectively reached, remains a dream. Various castes by and large remain where they were and thus have remained as unequals. Are they destined to remain backward till eternity? The states’ obligation is to undertake the emancipation of deprived sections of the community and eradicate the inequalities. When reservation creates inequality within the reserved class itself, it is required to be taken care of by the state by making sub-classification and adopting a distributive justice method so that wealth does not get concentrated in a few hands and equal justice to all can be provided.
It involves redistribution and re-allocation of resources and opportunities, and equitable access to all public and social goods to fulfil the constitutional mandate of equal justice for all. Providing a percentage of the reservation within the permissible limit is within the powers of the state legislatures. They cannot be deprived of their concomittant power to make reasonable classification within the scheduled tribes, scheduled castes and socially and educationally backward classes.
Sir, Bhupendra Yadav ji is not here now. I would have been happier had he been here. I have been given the time by the Honorable Speaker to speak. Bhupendra Yadav ji has not placed the correct facts before this House, I am sorry to say. With great respect to him I say that the Government of India, headed by the Honorable Prime Minister VP Singh, based on the recommendations of the Mandal Commission, issued an office memorandum on August 13, 1990, purporting to extend reservation for socially and educationally backward classes with effect from August 1990. This memorandum created hue and cry in the entire country. So many things happened that the memorandum was challenged in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court initially stayed it. This is the famous case of Indra Sawhney.
Then the government changed. Consequent to the change in government, following the general elections, in 1991, a government headed by the Honorable Prime Minister Narsimha Rao was formed. After the memorandum on August 13 1990, with certain modifications, another memorandum, dated September 13 1990, was issued, introducing the economic criteria in giving reservations, giving preference to the poorest sections of the SC, ST, OBC, a 2 per cent quota, and reserving another 10 per cent in the civil services, and so on and so forth.
Now the economic criteria was to be specified separately. This was adjudicated by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court only struck down clause 6 of that memorandum; but it also laid down the law in paragraphs 860 and 861 of that judgement. Bhupendra Yadavji was saying that the concept of creamy layer was brought, by them. I am sorry about this. Bhupendra Yadavji is a very educated person. How he can say this? He is a lawyer.
The creamy layer concept was first brought by the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case. It was not there earlier. From time to time, it has been enhanced, but that’s a different thing. But the creamy layer concept is not the concept of any government. Kindly read paragraph 860, where first she speaks about what the ‘creamy layer’ is. That concept has come because of the interpretation of the Supreme Court.
Sir, standing here, I must say that Indian democracy has developed and today India has become the number one democratic country because of two reasons, one of which is the legislative function that we do in Parliament and in the assemblies, and the other is the Supreme Court of India, which is the final interpreter of the Constitution. On the basis of the enhancement of laws has the democracy in the country grown. Now, the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case judgement, made the position clear in paragraphs 860 and 861.
Don’t look at the watch. I have taken the permission … of the Constitution. After so many days, after so much shouting, let me speak. The trinity of goals of the Constitution—socialism, secularism and democracy—cannot be realised unless all sections of the society participate in the state’s power, irrespective of their caste, community, race, religion and sex. All social discriminations in sharing of the state’s powers màde on those grounds should be eliminated by positive measures. Equality and unity would remain a dream without fraternity. The goal enumerated in the Preamble of the Constitution, of fraternity and assuring the dignity of the individual, and the unity and integrity of the nation, would remain unattainable so long as equality of opportunity is not ensured for all.
The social and political justice as per the Preamble of the Constitution to be secured for all citizens will remain a myth unless economic justice is guaranteed to all. The liberty of thought and expression will also remain on paper in the face of economic deprivation. If a person is not economically sound how can there be liberty of thought? This is a part of our Constitution, it is a fundamental right in our Constitution. One may agree or one may disagree, but everyone has a right to express their thoughts, and we must enhance that right.
The concept of equality before the law contemplates minimising inequalities in income and eliminating economic disparities. Sir, you will find it in Part Three of the Constitution. There the issue of equality of the economic income has been provided. This is an obligation of all states and the Centre. No grace is being given. It is not about ‘I am doing, I am doing, I am doing’ or about ‘I am the first man’. No, you are discharging your obligation. Equality itself is a positive constitutional right and it puts state and Central governments under an obligation to undertake an affirmative action. It is an obligation, you have to do it.
Finally, poverty, which is the ultimate result of inequality and the ultimate cause of backwardness, has to be eradicated by reservation. Now, my suggestion to the Honorary Minister is that you cannot only keep reservations; you should give free medical aid, free elementary education, scholarships for higher education and other financial support. You should give free housing, self-employment, settlement of the schemes, effective land reforms, strict impartial operation of law-enforcing machinery, industrialisation, construction of roads, bridges, canals and markets, introduction of transport, and free supply of water, electricity and other benefits, particularly in the most interior parts of the country, populated by different classes of people, including the backward classes.
I would have ended here, I would not have said anything more. I have spoken only on a prevailing constitutional scheme. But reiterating what my friend, who was speaking before me, said, Sir, why are you afraid to discuss Pegasus? Why? Why are you running away? These 20 days have gone by without any discussions being held because of you. Why are you afraid? Why? Come up tomorrow and discuss the Pegasus issue. Extend the session for another 15 days; we are ready to discuss all other issues. Tell Narendra Modi ji, our prime minister, to not run away from Parliament to avoid discussion on the Pegasus issue.