The Narendra Modi government faced embarrassment in the Rajya Sabha on Friday as the opposition insisted on voting on a private member's Resolution that had sought to amend articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution to ensure that SC/ST people are not denied reservation in any state.
The resolution said that when people of these castes migrate from one state to another in search of employment and settle there permanently, they are rendered ineligible for availing reservation benefits.
The Resolution was moved by Samajwadi Party MP Vishambhar Prasad Nishad.
The government was embarrassed as it had to vote against the Resolution to defeat it in the House amid opposition charges that it was anti-Dalit and "Manuwadi". The resolution got 32 votes in favour and 66 against.
Had the Resolution been passed, the government would have been bound to bring a Bill in the very next session to make it a law.
As the opposition in an unusual move insisted for voting, and Deputy Chairman Harivansh who was presiding over the House ordered the lobbies to be cleared for voting even as senior ministers loudly objected to the move.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that a new precedent is being set in the House.
Usually, the private members' resolutions are withdrawn by the MPs moving them after a discussion and the government's assurance on the matter.
However, on Friday, after Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot while replying to the discussion said that the Modi government was committed to the welfare of the Dalits and STs but it could not immediately bring such changes as desired by the Resolution, Nishad said he would like a vote in the House on the matter.
Amid the treasury benches protest, the Chair said that once the voting had been ordered, it could not be deferred. The opposition MPs welcomed the ruling with thumping of desks.
The Resolution said that people belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes or Denotified Castes were being deprived of facilities and concessions because of the lack of a uniform reservation system in the whole country.
"Provide uniform facilities by amending the articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution to include the homonymous and synonymous subcastes of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes according to the castes registered State-wise in the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 in all the States," the Resolution said.
"Amend the Constitution so that the persons belonging to SC/ST category in one state may be treated as the person of that SC/ST category all over the country to get the benefit of the reservation," it said.