A bill to modify the list of scheduled castes in Tamil Nadu by grouping of seven castes which presently exist as separate castes, was passed by the Lok Sabha on Friday. According to the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the Tamil Nadu government has proposed certain modifications in the list of Scheduled Castes by way of grouping of seven castes which presently exist as separate castes.
Replying to the discussion on the bill, Union Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot told the lower house the provisions of a law dealing with atrocities on SCs and STs has been made stringent. Besides extending financial aid, legal assistance is also being extended to those affected. The minister also said that in a bid to ensure safety of sanitation workers involved in hazardous tasks such as septic tank cleaning, machines are now being used and manual cleaning is being discouraged.
Participating in the discussion, BJP member Sunita Duggal said Devendrakula Velalar are people who traditionally belong to the agricultural community.
Earlier, TMC leader Saugata Roy expressed reservations about starting discussion on the bill, saying that there is only one day to discuss private members' bills. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal requested the Chair to take up discussion on the bill and subsequent to that, private members' bills can be discussed.
BJP member Umesh Jadav said the bill will give justice to about 30 to 40 lakh people who have been raising the demand for about 60-70 years. "It is not just a change of name but a significant move to give justice, honour and respect to them," he said. He added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to fulfil the demands of the communities at a rally in Madurai about a year ago and that promise is now being fulfilled.
Shiv Sena member Rahul Shewale appreciated the central government to give justice to the people of Tamil Nadu and sought similar favourable action in granting reservation to the Maratha community in Maharashtra. He urged the central government to support the Maharashtra government's stand in the Supreme Court so that the reservation to the Maratha community could be given.
Supporting the bill, YSR Congress member Goddeti Madhavi highlighted the Andhra Pradesh government's initiatives for the welfare of the SC and ST communities.
JD-U member Vijay Kumar lauded the prime minister for bringing the bill and said the Modi government is taking all possible steps for the welfare of the SC and ST communities. Kumar urged the government to adopt the Bihar government scheme under which a job is given to the next of kin of any SC member who is killed in caste violence.
BSP member Girish Chandra alleged that the discrimination against the SC and ST communities in Tamil Nadu is very high and such injustice should come to an end once for all.
BJP member Virendra Kumar said the bill is a commendable move as it will give justice to a large number of people in Tamil Nadu. Kumar said there are some castes who are considered as SCs or STs in a few districts while they are considered OBCs in other districts of the same state. Similarly, some castes are SCs in some states while in some other states they are considered OBCs. He urged the government to end such anomalies so that all from the same castes should get equal benefits and opportunities everywhere. Kumar also praised the prime minister for giving high allocation for the welfare of the SC and ST communities.
Six Presidential Orders were issued specifying Scheduled Castes in respect of various states and union territories. These orders have been amended from time to time by Acts of Parliament.