Meira says SC quota must rise to 16.23 per cent
IF HRD Minister Arjun Singh can do it, why not Meira Kumar? The social justice and empowerment minister wants an increase in quota levels for scheduled castes, commensurate with their population.india Updated: Jun 12, 2006 01:24 IST
IF HRD Minister Arjun Singh can do it, why not Meira Kumar? The social justice and empowerment minister wants an increase in quota levels for scheduled castes, commensurate with their population.
On Sunday, Kumar said a proposal to raise reservations for SCs from the existing 15 per cent to 16.23 per cent was being "favourably" considered by her ministry.
The government had last revised the quota level for SCs in 1970 in light of the 1961 census. Kumar believes it is time for another revision, especially since 68 additional castes have been notified as SCs.
Her announcement, reported by PTI, comes despite the Left making it clear that she was not in the right on the issue. Also, it is likely to lead to similar demands from other sections.
But the move -- seemingly aimed at strengthening Kumar's base among Dalits -- could run into trouble.
The combined reservation on the basis of castes and classes - SC, ST and OBCs - comes to 49.5 per cent, right on the border of the 50 per cent ceiling stipulated by the Supreme Court in the Nineties. The additional 3 per cent reservation for the disabled is not covered by this directive.
Should the government go along with Kumar on her proposal, it would be liable to be struck down by the Supreme Court.
Unless, of course, the government goes ahead to include this law under the Constitution's Ninth Schedule -- thus making it non-judicable.
Given that phased OBC quotas in higher education and pushing affirmative action in private-sector jobs are going to be on the government's agenda over the next few years, it is unlikely that the government would want to open another front. This view is also based on the fact that the representation of SCs/STs among government officers is yet to reach the 15 per cent ma