Govt debates reservations for SC, ST candidates in departments or universities | education | Hindustan Times
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Govt debates reservations for SC, ST candidates in departments or universities

The latest UGC order says each department, rather than the entire university, should reserve seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The current norm is to have institution-wise reservation.

education Updated: Mar 29, 2018 08:53 IST
Neelam Pandey
Neelam Pandey
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Hearing a case on hiring teachers at Banaras Hindu University (pic), the Allahabad high court said each department, rather than the entire university, should be treated as a “unit” to form a basis for reservation.
Hearing a case on hiring teachers at Banaras Hindu University (pic), the Allahabad high court said each department, rather than the entire university, should be treated as a “unit” to form a basis for reservation.(PTI File Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met a group of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) parliamentarians and ministers from the scheduled caste and tribe on Wednesday to discuss issues affecting the two communities, including a University Grants Commission (UGC) directive on hiring teachers.

The delegation led by Union ministers Ram Vilas Paswan, Ramdas Athawale and Thawarchand Gehlot informed the Prime Minister that the UGC’s order for a department-wise roster of teacher vacancies reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates will affect the two communities’ representation in universities and colleges. The current norm is to have an institution-wise table for reserved vacancies.

The Issue

UGC says its new reservation formula, issued on March 5, is in response to a direction of the Allahabad high court in April 2017.

Hearing a case on hiring teachers at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), the high court said each department, rather than the entire university, should be treated as a “unit” to form a basis for reservation.

The court struck down the UGC’s institution-wise reservation policy to fill vacant faculty positions, saying there are departments without SC or ST teachers.

On the directions of the human resource development (HRD) ministry, a UGC-appointed committee examined 10 court judgments on the subject and recommended that Allahabad HC ruling should be applied to all universities. Following this, the UGC issued the March directive.

The Significance

Experts say the March order will shrink seats for reserved groups. PS Krishnan, a former secretary at the Centre, explains that in case of a single vacancy in a college department, reservation will not be possible. That’s why the government has this “formula of bunching similar posts with similar pay scales, qualifications, and so reservation became possible”, he says.

Department-wise quota will ensure equitable distribution of SC and ST candidates, it has been argued. But experts, teachers and parliamentarians don’t think so. The HRD ministry has decided to file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court to get the high court order rescinded.

The Debate

The UGC directive honours a court order, but it can affect the reservation policy and its operation. The representation of SC, ST and other backward class (OBC) teachers is poor in higher education.

A government report in 2016 says only seven of 100 teachers in colleges and universities are from the disadvantaged sections.

Only 102,000 — or 7.22% — of the 1.4 million teachers in 716 universities and 38,056 colleges in India were Dalits. The ST faculty was just 30,000 or 2.12%.