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Saturday, Aug 17, 2019

Government plans ordinance on institute-wide reservation

The push for the ordinance came from the Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar.

india Updated: Aug 15, 2018 07:52 IST

Neelam Pandey, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Students at Delhi University. The government plans to pass an ordinance to allow universities to hire faculty following an institution-wide reservation formula.
Students at Delhi University. The government plans to pass an ordinance to allow universities to hire faculty following an institution-wide reservation formula.(Saumya Khandelwal/HT file photo)
         

The union government plans to pass an ordinance to allow universities to hire faculty following an institution-wide reservation formula, and not a department-specific one which has come under fire from teachers’ groups and political parties because it will effectively reduce the number of teacher posts reserved for the scheduled class and scheduled tribe (SC/ST) communities.

The ordinance was widely expected after the Supreme Court on July 19 didn’t provide a way out to the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry which filed a Special Leave Petition, but Tuesday’s disclosure by a government official familiar with the matter is the first real confirmation that it could come soon.

The ministry’s petition challenges an Allahabad High Court decision of last April that was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court last October and also adopted by the apex body regulating universities, the University Grants Commission. That order mandates department-specific reservations on the grounds that there are entire departments without a single SC/ST professor. However, because universities have many departments with just one professor, and the reservation will not apply to this, the impact of the court’s order is the exact opposite of what it wanted to achieve. If implemented, it would have meant a fall in the number of SC/ST faculty.

The ordinance is also meant to allow universities to continue hiring teachers; recruitment has been frozen since July 19 after the Supreme Court said no faculty would be hired till it ruled on the HRD ministry’s petition.

A second government official who asked not to be identified said the freeze has led to a staff crunch at many central universities.

The president promulgates ordinances or executive orders on the Union cabinet’s recommendation when Parliament is not in session for legislative processes. An ordinance needs Parliament approval within six weeks after it meets next.

The push for the ordinance came from the Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar. “We are hopeful, we will be able to save reservation for SC, ST and OBCs (Other Backward Classes),” he told Rajya Sabha on July 19.

The first official said the HRD ministry had conducted an empirical study at universities like the Banaras Hindu University before filing the petition. The study found the number of vacancies for SC/ST had gone down drastically due to the implementation of the new rule.

“The matter was taken up with the Supreme Court but as the court has not heard it yet, it led to stalling of all recruitment process. It has been decided to bring in an ordinance that prescribes institution as a unit for implementing reservation in faculty recruitment,” said the first official. This basically means a return to the policy in practice before the Allahabad court’s ruling.

The ordinance tentatively titled ‘Direct Recruitment of Teachers in Central Institutions Ordinance” will be sent for the president’s assent after the cabinet approves the proposal.

PS Krishnan, a former secretary in the central government, said: “It is a welcome move and is fully justified. I have also advised the Governments that if they do not get relief on the SLP in a reasonable time, they should proceed with legislation to restore the procedure of taking the university/college /other educational institution as the unit for implementation of reservation.This procedure helps progress in achieving the Constitutional objective of securing Equality through reservation in faculty positions.”

First Published: Aug 15, 2018 07:52 IST

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