Chhattisgarh cabinet approves bills for reservation in different categories
The bills, once passed by the assembly and approved by the governor, will take reservation to above 76%, the highest for any state in the country
The Chhattisgarh cabinet headed by chief minister Bhupesh Baghel on Thursday approved two amendment bills paving the way for reservation in admissions and employment in proportion to population of various sections of the society in the state.
The bills, once passed by the assembly and approved by the governor, will take reservation to above 76%, the highest for any state in the country. Officials said the two amendment bills that were approved will be tabled in the state assembly during a special session scheduled on December 1 and 2.
Chhattisgarh government spokesperson and parliamentary affairs minister Ravindra Choubey said the cabinet approved the drafts of the Chhattisgarh Public Service (Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes Reservation) Amendment Act and an amendment bill related to admission in educational institutions.
“The state government is very serious about reservation and it has been decided that the provisions of the reservation rules struck down by the high court will be made effective again through an Act,” Chaubey said.
The two amendment bills related to reservation in government jobs and admissions in education institutions will be tabled during the special session of the state assembly.
The state government has been reiterating that it is committed to provide reservation in proportion to the population, while the Supreme Court also said that it is appropriate to give reservation of up to 10% to the economically weaker sections (EWS) in the general category, which will also be followed.
The minister, however, refused to disclose the percentage of quotas proposed for different categories in the bill, but sources said it could be according to quota benefits announced in 2019.
Officials familiar with the development said the cabinet approved the hike of reservation for OBCs to 27 per cent from the existing 14 per cent, and for the SC community to 13 per cent from 12 per cent in the public employment and admissions. The 32 per cent reservation for the ST category remains unchanged.
Besides, a provision of 4 per cent reservation for the EWS was also approved, taking the total extent of reservation to 86 per cent, he said.
On August 15, 2019, the Chhattisgarh government had announced that it will increase reservation for Scheduled Castes (SC) and OBCs in jobs and education.
The quota for OBCs was increased from 14% to 27%, for SCs was hiked from 12% to 13%. The reservation for Scheduled Tribes was kept unchanged at 32%. At the time, experts had said that the increase in reservation was aimed at helping chief minister Bhupesh Baghel create a narrative around regional politics.
However, later in October 2019, the Chhattisgarh high court directed the state government to not proceed with an ordinance that hiked the quantum of reservation for other backward classes (OBC) from 14% to 27% and also criticized the Congress-led administration.
Recently in September this year, the high court reduced the reservation quota for tribals from 32% to 20%, rendering the state government’s 2012 order which raised the quota of tribals in government jobs and admissions in study institutions.
The state government had in 2012 raised the total quota of reservations to 58%, which was termed unconstitutional by the high court.
Following the high court’s order of striking down the tribal reservations, various groups within the community have been staging protests demanding the restoration of at least 32% of reservations as provided by the state.
“The Congress government is confused over the reservation issue. On one hand they have challenged the HC order in Supreme Court and on the other they are bringing in an Act. I believe they want to take advantage of the reservation in the upcoming elections and are not concerned about the people of the state,” said senior BJP leader and spokesperson Ajay Chandrakar.
Sudeip Shrivastava, lawyer and political commentator based in Chhattisgarh, feels that the move was expected.
“The Supreme Court in the recent judgment on EWS quota allowed reservation beyond 50%, because of which 58% reservation notification was earlier quashed. Now, the Act will fill the vacuum and unless it is declared unconstitutional by higher courts, it will prevail and provide higher reservation. Considering the assembly elections which are due next November, it is unlikely that the Congress government will get into any new legal trouble because of this,” he said.