Opposition parties in Rajya Sabha on Monday demanded that the government file a review petition in the Supreme Court over its ruling on reservation in jobs and promotions for SC/STs, and walked out of the House over its "unsatisfactory" response.
Making a statement in the Upper House, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot clarified that neither the central government was made a party in this matter nor any affidavit was sought from it, and asserted that it is committed to the welfare of SCs, STs and other backward castes.
He stressed that the central government will take "appropriate steps" on this subject after due discussion and consideration.
The minister had earlier given the statement in Lok Sabha after the opposition parties raised the issue in the lower house and accused the government of failing to protect the reservation system.
The Supreme Court has held that states are not bound to provide reservation in appointments and there is no fundamental right to claim quota in promotions.
The apex court gave its order on the plea related to Uttarakhand government's decision taken on September 5, 2012 not to provide reservation for scheduled caste (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), Gehlot said in Rajya Sabha.
"There was Congress Party government in Uttarakhand in 2012. Our government is dedicated and committed for the welfare of SCs, STs and other backward castes.
"... Since it is an important subject, the government is considering it at the highest level," the minister said.
Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale said the apex court's decision was "unjust" and the reservation subject should be brought under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution.
It is a "serious" issue and the entire country is concerned about it, NDA ally LJP and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said.
"There is not need to worry. The Modi government will protect and will do whatever best possible to protect the interest of SCs and STs," Paswan, a dalit leader, said.
He said the reservation issue should be brought under the Ninth Schedule of Constitution and pitched for reservation for the community in judiciary also.
After the minister's statement, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said it is a serious issue as it concerns about one-fourth of the country's population.
"Immediately, a cabinet meeting should be called and take a decision to file a review petition," Azad said.
Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP) said, "When the matter comes before cabinet, you should also add promotion in judiciary."
Members of DMK, TRS and Left parties urged the government to review the matter.
When the minister rose to respond to the queries, he repeatedly said the government is considering the matter and will take appropriate step after due discussion.
Unsatisfied with the reply, the Opposition parties barring the Shiv Sena walked out of the House.
After they walked out, senior BJP leader Bhupinder Yadav said the reservation system is safe and that the House should work with unity.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)