In a significant move towards addressing social inequality, the Governor of Bihar, Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar, approved the ‘Bihar Reservation Amendment Bill’ on November 17. This legislative development comes after the State Government passed the bill unanimously during the winter season, with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressing his commitment to swift implementation. The bill raises the reservation quota for Backward, Extremely Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from 50% to 65%, surpassing the 50% ceiling set by the Supreme Court. This article delves into the key aspects of the reservation amendment, its implications and the social justice agenda it aims to promote.
The Quota Breakdown
The ‘Bihar Reservation Amendment Bill’ brings about a comprehensive reevaluation of reservation quotas across various categories. The amendments include raising the quota for Extremely Backward Class (EBC) from 18% to 25%, Backward Classes (BC) from 12% to 18%, Scheduled Caste (SC) from 16% to 20% and doubling the reservation for Scheduled Tribe (ST) from 1% to 2%. Notably, the 3% reservation for BC women has been eliminated.
Exceeding the Ceiling
With the 65% reservation quota, Bihar surpasses the 50% cap mandated by the Supreme Court. This raises questions about the constitutionally of such a move, but Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has emphasized the government’s commitment to implementing the provisions of the bill. The article explores the potential legal implications and the historical context of reservation quotas exceeding the prescribed limit.
Impact on Educational Institutions and Government Jobs
The legislative amendments not only apply to employment opportunities but also extend to educational institutions. Bills reflecting the increased reservation in both sectors, based on a comprehensive caste survey conducted by the state government, were also passed unanimously.
Chief Minister’s Vision
Following the unanimous passage of the bill on November 9, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar assured swift implementation of its provisions. During his address to the house on November 10, Kumar not only encourage members to propose a nationwide caste-based census to the central government but also expressed his willingness to raise the reservation limits further if similar surveys were conducted across the country.
Caste Survey Findings
The caste-based survey conducted in Bihar disclosed that EBC and OBC together constitute a significant 63% of the state’s total population, which stands at 13.07 crores. CM Nitish Kumar, while presenting the survey report, emphasized that the bill aims to adjust reservation quotas for backward classes based on their proportional representation in the state’s population.
After the Governor’s approval of the Bihar Reservation Amendment Bill 2023, former Chief Minister and HAM Chief Jitan Ram Manjhi issued a statement demanding the formation of a new cabinet that reflects the share of the caste population. In a sarcastic remark on social media, Manjhi congratulated Nitish Kumar and suggested that the current cabinet be dismissed, with a new council of ministers formed based on caste population shares, indicating a potential shift in political dynamics.