The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, marked as Bill No. 90 of 2023, is a legislative proposal aimed at amending the existing Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004. This bill reflects an effort to modify certain provisions of the Reservation Act in order to address specific concerns and align the legislation with current social and educational contexts. The proposed changes primarily focus on the nomenclature of the beneficiary categories and are rooted in the recommendations of the Jammu and Kashmir Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Commission (SEBCC).
PDF File for the bill can be accessed here.
The preamble of the bill declares its purpose as a further amendment to the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004. Enacted to provide reservations in appointment and admission in professional institutions for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and other socially and educationally backward classes, the Reservation Act has been a crucial legislative framework addressing issues of social inequality and educational access.
The bill opens with a declaration of its short title as the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Act, 2023. It specifies that the act shall come into force on a date determined by the Central Government through notification in the Official Gazette. This provision sets the stage for the implementation of the proposed amendments, indicating a future effective date.
The core amendments are outlined in Section 2 of the bill, which focuses on amending Section 2 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004. The changes primarily revolve around Clause (o) and Clause (q) of Section 2.
In Clause (o), the bill proposes to substitute sub-clause (iii) with a new provision. The existing sub-clause defines "socially and educationally backward classes" and includes the term "weak and underprivileged classes (social castes)." The proposed amendment aims to replace this with "other backward classes declared as such by the Government from time to time." Simultaneously, the first proviso under Clause (o) is altered to replace the words "said category" with "category of socially and educationally backward classes."
Additionally, the bill suggests omitting Clause (q) entirely. Clause (q) currently defines "weak and underprivileged classes," and its removal is a consequential amendment tied to the modification in Clause (o).
To comprehend the need for these changes, the bill provides a Statement of Objects and Reasons. It emphasizes that the amendments are proposed to address confusion arising from differences in nomenclature, specifically the shift from "weak and underprivileged classes (social castes)" to "other backward classes." This alteration is recommended by the Jammu and Kashmir SEBCC to harmonize the terminology and eliminate discrepancies that may cause confusion among the general public and authorities responsible for issuing certificates.
The bill contextualizes its amendments by referring to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 (34 of 2019), which stipulates that reservation in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is governed by the Reservation Act. Due to the absence of a functioning Legislature in the Union Territory, the President, through a proclamation, has authorized the exercise of legislative powers by or under the authority of Parliament.
Moreover, the bill justifies its amendments as a response to the recommendations of the Jammu and Kashmir SEBCC. By proposing a change in nomenclature, the bill aims to align with contemporary understanding and societal dynamics, ensuring that the legislation remains relevant and effective.
The proposed amendments also cite the objective of enabling the implementation of the Constitution (One Hundred and Fifth Amendment) Act, 2021, emphasizing the bill's alignment with broader constitutional changes aimed at addressing issues of social justice and equality.
In conclusion, the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, is a legislative effort to bring about nuanced changes in the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004. These changes, driven by recommendations from the SEBCC, aim to streamline the terminology, reduce confusion, and ensure the effective implementation of reservation policies in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The bill underscores the importance of staying attuned to evolving social dynamics and aligning legislative frameworks accordingly, ultimately contributing to the broader goals of social justice and equitable access to opportunities.
For UPSC aspirants, particularly those engaged in IAS coaching in Delhi, the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 holds substantial relevance. This legislative proposal, addressing amendments to the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004, reflects the dynamic nature of governance and social policies in India. The significance lies in its alignment with constitutional changes, notably the Constitution (One Hundred and Fifth Amendment) Act, 2021, highlighting the government's commitment to fostering social justice. Aspirants at the best IAS coaching institutes in Delhi, including those in Mukherjee Nagar, should closely study the bill as it embodies the evolving landscape of reservation policies. The emphasis on nomenclature changes, recommended by the Jammu and Kashmir Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Commission, underscores the nuanced understanding needed by aspirants to grasp contemporary issues affecting marginalized communities. Analyzing such legislative developments is crucial for IAS preparation, enhancing candidates' awareness of current affairs and the intersection of social and political dynamics.