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The Hindu

July 25, 2003

Summary: The ruling party in India has rejected a bill which would introduce full representation (proportional representation), as well as reserve seats in Parliament for certain minority groups.

The Hindu
Jaitley: Religious quotas dangerous
July 25, 2003

New Delhi: The Government today rejected in the Lok Sabha introduction of list system based on proportional representation of candidates to elected bodies saying the process could usher in "instability" hurting the country's democratic set up.

"Such a system would bring in a gap between constituencies on one hand and government on the other and give eminence to political parties," Law minister Arun Jaitley said intervening in a debate on a Private Member's Constitution Amendment Bill moved by Muslim League member G M Banatwala.

Jaitley described as "dangerous" any move to provide reservation of seats on religious grounds.

The system of proportional representation, Jaitley said, would create further bifurcation of the polity as large number of political parties could be propped up under such an electoral method.

"This will lead to a great amount of instability which could hurt governance. I express inability of the government to support the proposed measure," the Law Minister said.

On the issue of reservation of seats based on religious denomination, Jaitley said this kind of system could affect the composite character of society.

"Healthy discussions in elected bodies may cease to exist if reservation on religious lines is accepted," the minister added.

Banatwala, after his reply supporting the list system as also reservation for minorities, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes, withdrew the Bill. Certain remarks by the Muslim League member drew strong protests from BJP benches

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