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JUDICIARY WATCH

Bill to restore SC-ST quota in varsities moving at slow pace

PTI/Agencies, New Delhi
10/01/2019   0 Comments

While the government moved with unprecedented speed to draft a Cabinet note overnight and take a bill to Parliament to allow 10% reservation in jobs and education for economically weaker sections, it didn’t display the same urgency on a bill seeking to restore the SC/ST quota for faculty positions in universities. The proposed Reservation in Direct Recruitment in Central Educational Institutions Bill is yet to get the government’s goahead despite a freeze on faculty hiring across all universities since March 2018. Over 5,000 university faculty positions are estimated to be vacant due to lack of clarity on the SC/ST reservation formula, which this bill seeks to address. 

The proposed Reservation in Direct Recruitment in Central Educational Institutions Bill is yet to get the government’s goahead despite a freeze on faculty hiring across all universities since March 2018. Over 5,000 university faculty positions are estimated to be vacant due to lack of clarity on the SC/ST reservation formula, which this bill seeks to address. The human resource development ministry had submitted the bill to the Cabinet after shelving a plan to issue an ordinance, expecting the legislation would be piloted in the winter session of parliament. This bill had been through the full procedural drill of inter-ministerial consultation and legal vetting. 

Considering that the issue was red-flagged by the parliamentary committee on SC/STs and pertained to restoration of a reservation formula in use until March 2018, it was expected that the faculty quota bill would get the political consensus needed for a quicker passage. However, the government may have gone slow on this move in apprehension of a possible backlash from an already resentful upper caste segment and its political implications in an election year. The non-political implications are being clearly felt in the university system, with faculty hiring frozen for a whole year amid a high shortage of teachers. 

The Reservation in Direct Recruitment in Central Educational Institutions Bill seeks to restore the pre-March 2018 faculty reservation prevalent in higher educational institutes. The bill reverses the Allahabad High Court order of 2017, which changed the reservation formula for posts department-wise rather than university-wise. A University Grants Commission order of March 5, 2018, mandating the change sparked an uproar across universities and in political circles, anticipating a 50%-60% cut in SC/ST posts in universities. Under pressure from politicians and the parliamentary committee on welfare of SCs and STs, the HRD ministry attempted a reversal of  of the court order.

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