The Centre clearly told Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Friday that the state government is competent to give reservation to Gujjars under the class of nomadic or denotified tribes.
Tribal Affairs minister PR Kyndiah wrote to the CM that Article 16 of the Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, enables states to make provisions for reservation to nomadic and denotified tribes.
Raje, in January and May this year, had asked the Centre to amend the Constitution to provide 4-6 per cent reservation for Gujjars under a special category of de-notified or nomadic tribes. The Gujjars have already rejected the move seeking Scheduled Tribe status.
Kyndiah told HT that the Centre had nothing to do with it. “To my mind they (Rajasthan government) can give reservation to Gujjars,” he said.
The Apex court had allowed reservation under Article 16 (1) for categories not covered under SC/ST or Other Backward Classes in “very exceptional situations.” The court also clarified that reservation under Article 16 (1) cannot be given for “all and sundry reasons” and the state would have to satisfy that making such a provision was necessary in public interest to redress a specific situation.
Kyndiah’s letter also makes it clear that an amendment to the Constitution would upset the delicate balance.