Dishing out a sugar-coated pill to agitating Jats, the Haryana Backward Classes Commission (HBCC) on Wednesday recommended 10% reservation in state government jobs for five castes — Jats, Jat Sikhs, Rors, Tyagis and Bishnois — under special backward class category. This would be in addition to 27% seats already reserved for backward classes by the state government.
Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the council of ministers has, in principle, accepted the commission report submitted by chairman justice KC Gupta (retd). Hooda, however, did not commit as to when it would be implemented.
The quota status
Haryana already provides 20% quota in jobs to scheduled castes and 27% to backward classes. The recommendation to provide 10% exclusive quota for the five castes could take it to 57%. And, the recommendation to provide 10% separate reservation to economically backward categories — below poverty line families of general category and other economically weaker castes — if implemented, will mean 67% reservation.
In TN footsteps?
The HBCC has probably taken a leaf out from Tamil Nadu's quota book. The southern state has 69% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions — scheduled castes (18%), scheduled tribes (1%) and backward classes (50%).
However, Tamil Nadu's case is exceptional. The state enacted a legislation — Tamil Nadu backward classes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes (reservation of seats in educational institutions and appointments in services under state) in 1994 after getting the assent of the President. On July 22, 1994, the Tamil Nadu government requested the union government to include this Act in the 9th schedule to the constitution so that it could not be challenged as violation of any fundamental right contained in Part 3 of the constitution, including Articles 15 and 16 and gets protection under Article 31-B.
Since the Centre had already supported the provisions of the legislation by giving President's assent to the Tamil Nadu Bill, the Act was brought within the purview of 9th schedule to the constitution to give it protection with regard to judicial review.
The recommendations of the commission may not stand legal scrutiny as the Supreme Court, in its 1992 judgment in Indira Sawhney and others versus Union of India and others, has held that: "Reservations contemplated in clause (4) of Article 16 should not exceed 50%."
Article 16 of the constitution provides for equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. Its clause 4 says that nothing in this article shall prevent the state from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens, which, in the opinion of the state, is not adequately represented in the services under the state.
The HBCC, however, in its report has analysed the SC order and based their recommendation on the apex court's view that while 50% shall be the rule, it is necessary not to put out of consideration certain extraordinary situations inherent in the great diversity of the country and people.
"It might happen that in remote areas the population inhabiting those areas might, on account of their being out of the mainstream of national life and in view of the conditions peculiar to end characteristic of them need to be treated in a different way, some relaxation in this strict rule may become imperative. In doing so, extreme caution is to be exercised and a special case made out," says the SC order.
Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap said fundamental premise of the constitution was to ensure that there was no discrimination and inequality. "Some exceptions have been made for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Also, there is scope for making special provisions for socially and educationally backward classes. In Indira Sawhney case the SC has clearly held that reservation cannot be beyond 50%," Kashyap said. "If the majority gets benefit of reservation, it will become an anathema," said Kashyap, former secretary general of Lok Sabha.
Timing of the report
The HBCC recommendations have also been timed to thwart resumption of agitation by Jats who have threatened to block supply of essential commodities to the national capital. Jat leaders, in fact, have termed the commission's report an eyewash and unfeasible. "We will launch the agitation as scheduled," said Om Parkash Mann, president of the All India Jat Mahasabha.
The council of ministers also decided that the commission must be requested to give detailed report on the criteria and mechanism of reservation for economically backward persons.
The state government on Wednesday constituted a six-member subcommittee, headed by finance minister HS Chattha, to consider the commission's recommendations in respect to reservation for economically backward people in general category and to suggest specific programmes for economic uplift of special backward classes as suggested by the commission.
Forward to Centre
The CM said the council of ministers also decided to take up the commission's recommendation - to include five castes in the central list of Haryana - with the central government so that they could get reservation in the central jobs as well.
The council of ministers decided that the existing criteria for exclusion of creamy layer, as applicable to the reservation in backward classes, be adopted for the purpose of reservation for special backward classes, as recommended by the commission.
The CM said the commission has recommended that if after getting the benefit of reservation, families of other BCs get enhancement in their standard of living to a specific level, the heirs may not be given such benefit so that the other members of other backward classes get the benefit.
Commission chairman justice KC Gupta (retd) said the representatives of 16 castes had requested to include them in the other backward classes. After conducting a survey of 50,000 houses, five castes - Jat, Jat Sikh, Bishnoi, Ror and Tyagi - were found backward socially, economically and educationally.
The survey was conducted with the cooperation of Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak. Gupta said with a view to give benefit of reservation to 16 castes, 90 points were fixed on the basis of social, economic and educational parameters. The commission recommended benefit of reservation to those castes which scored more than 50% points.
Gosais to get re-look
The council of ministers was of the opinion that Goswami and Gosai might not be the same and the commission might be asked to re-evaluate the backwardness of Gosai caste.
Decoding the Jat sop
What it means?
If implemented, Haryana will have 67% reservation in government jobs.
It is an attempt to appease Jats as they have set a December 15 deadline to restart agitation for reservation.
Legal experts say it is untenable and will not stand legal scrutiny, recommendations likely to be challenged in court of law.