Article 334: Reservation of seats and special representation to cease after twenty years

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Another article of Indian constitution which I would like to bring forward is Article 334. When the constitution was first introduced on 26th November 1949, article 334 titled “Reservation of seats and special representation to cease after twenty years” stated

“Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this Part, the provisions of this Constitution relating to—

(a) the reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People and in the Legislative Assemblies of the States; and

(b) the representation of the Anglo-Indian community in the House of the People and in the Legislative Assemblies of the States by nomination, shall cease to have effect on the expiration of a period of twenty years from the commencement of this Constitution:

Provided that nothing in this article shall affect any representation in the House of the People or in the Legislative Assembly of a State until the dissolution of the then existing House or Assembly, as the case may be.”

This meant that, reservation of SC/STs in House of the People and in Legislative Assemblies of the states should not be in effect post 1970. However, as per the 23rd Amendment which happened on 23th January 1970, article 334 of Indian constitution was amended to extend reservation for SC/ST and nomination of Anglo Indian members in Parliament and State Assemblies for another 10 years. This meant that reservations of SC/STs in the House of the People and in Legislative Assemblies of the States is extended till 1980. Basically, when constitution of India was written, the goal was set for twenty years to bring a reform among SC/STs. However, lack of accountability among politicians and creation of vote-bank politics resulted in further 10 year extension of the time-line. The worst was yet to come. On 25th Janurary 1980, article 334 of Indian constitution was again amended (45th Amendment) to extend reservation for SC/ST and nomination of Anglo Indian members in Parliament and State Assemblies for another ten years (up to 1990). 10 years later, on 20th December 1989, article 334 of Indian constitution was once again amended (62nd Amendment) to extend reservation for SC/ST and nomination of Anglo Indian members in Parliament and State Assemblies for another ten years (up to 2000). Ten years later, on 25th January 2000, article 334 of Indian constitution was amended (79th Amendment) for the 4th time to extend reservation for SC/ST and nomination of Anglo Indian members in Parliament and State Assemblies for another ten years (up to 2010).

So, basically, the concept of reservations of seats for SCs/STs in House of People and Legislative assemblies was meant for twenty years but incapable/unaccountable politicians extended it till sixty years. The most disheartening fact is, the situation of SCs/STs in India still remains as backward as it was during independence. Who is responsible for it? I would say, it’s the people belonging to SCs/STs, especially because they haven’t demanded their elected representatives to develop them. How long can the nation tolerate reservations in the name of caste when people itself want to stick to their backwardness? It appears that, by the end of 2010, the constitution will be once again amended to extend the reservations for SC/STs for another 10 years. This will continue to happen until SCs/STs wake up and demand progress and accountability from their elected representatives. Also, they need to start realizing that, their elected representative need not be from SCs/ST to understand their problems.

I hope sense prevails in India.