The Lower House of the Indian Parliament, known as the Lok Sabha, passed two bills on Wednesday aimed at introducing and implementing reservations for members of schedule castes, tribes, socially and educationally “backward” classes within the legislative assembly, employment sphere and professional institutions within the territories of Jammu and Kashmir. Reservations in India are a part of a system of affirmative action, which provides representation to historically disadvantaged groups. The Wednesday bills include the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Jammu and Kashmir Re-organisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023.The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which was originally introduced in July, seeks to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004, which has continued to govern reservations in the Union Territory for the last two decades. The bill proposes to amend section 2 of the 2004 act to change the wording from “weak and under-privileged classes (social castes)” to “other backward classes.” The bill also proposes to eliminate the definition of weak and underprivileged classes from the act altogether.Speaking in Parliament, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the two bills will give justice to those deprived of their rights for the last 70 years. Shah also asserted that reservation to the displaced people will give them a voice in the legislature.In addition to this, the Jammu and Kashmir Re-organization (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which was also introduced in July, got the assent of the lower house. The bill seeks to make substantial amendments to the the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019, which expedited the reorganization of the state into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh. The proposed bill would expand the number of seats in the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly from 83 to 90, with nine and seven seats allocated for members from scheduled tribes and scheduled castes, respectively. Additionally, one member representing displaced persons from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir may be nominated to the legislative assembly by the lieutenant governor.The federal government previously repealed Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, which granted them regional autonomy, in 2019 in an attempt to settle land disputes over the region between India and Pakistan. It is now bifurcated into two Union territories. 

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