Jharkhand makes 1932 base year for domicile, grants 77% reservation in jobs

Updated on Sep 15, 2022 04:43 AM IST

The cabinet also approved proposals to send these two bills after ratification from the state assembly to the Centre to include them in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, Jharkhand cabinet secretary Vandana Dadel said. A law in the Ninth Schedule is shielded from judicial review.

**EDS: IMAGE VIA CM OFFICE** Ranchi: Congress Spokesperson Gaurav Bhalla meets with Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren in Ranchi, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. (PTI Photo) (PTI08_31_2022_000164B) (PTI)
**EDS: IMAGE VIA CM OFFICE** Ranchi: Congress Spokesperson Gaurav Bhalla meets with Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren in Ranchi, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. (PTI Photo) (PTI08_31_2022_000164B) (PTI)

The Jharkhand cabinet, led by chief minister Hemant Soren, on Wednesday approved two bills, one fixing land records of 1932 as the basis for domicile in the state and another to increase reservation in jobs for socially and economically weaker sections to 77%.

The cabinet also approved proposals to send these two bills after ratification from the state assembly to the Centre to include them in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, Jharkhand cabinet secretary Vandana Dadel said. A law in the Ninth Schedule is shielded from judicial review.

“The cabinet has approved the ‘Jharkhand definition of local persons and for extending the consequential, social, cultural and other benefits to such local persons Bill, 2022’,” Dadel said after the cabinet meeting chaired by chief minister Soren. “As per the Bill, people who have their names of their ancestors’ name in the khatiyan (land records) of 1932 or before will be considered as a local inhabitant of Jharkhand.”

Besides, those who are landless or do not have their or their families’ names in the 1932 khatiyan, respective gram sabha would have the power to certify them based on their language, customary traditions, the cabinet secretary said.

The current domicile policy, required for claiming different government benefits, passed by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Raghubar Das had fixed 1985 as the base year to determine who could hold domicile of Jharkhand, which was carved out of Bihar on November 15, 2000. The Jharkhand high court had struck down the decision.

The second bill cleared by the cabinet proposes to increase reservation in state jobs for the socially and economically weaker sections of the society from 60% to 77%.

“As per the bill, the reservation of the schedule tribes (ST) would go up to 28% (from 26%), OBC would get 27% (up from 14%) and 12% for the scheduled castes (up from 10%),” said Dadel. “After including 10% reservation for EWS (economically weaker section), the total reservation would go up to 77%.”

Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting, Soren described the cabinet decision as “historic”.

“The cabinet today has taken historic decisions. While quota for OBCs has been increased, 1932 Khatiyan is also being implemented,” said Soren. “The government is sensitive towards needs of all sections of the society, be it the farmers, youth, teachers, constables, or the common man. It is better to take their reaction today.”

Reacting to the development, Jharkhand BJP president Deepak Prakash said, “We are studying the cabinet note. We will discuss about it with our leaders before reacting on it.”

Sudhir Pal, an independent political commentator, termed the move politically significant.

“These are important issues which have been in demand in the state for long. People want government to take decisions which are for betterment for people at large,” said Pal. “However, the timings for these decisions make them suspect. The government takes such significant back-to-back decisions either when it’s in crisis or ahead of elections.”

The development comes amid the political turmoil in the state, with uncertainty over CM Soren’s future as an MLA over an alleged office-of-profit case.

Increasing OBC quota was a poll promise of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)-led United Progressive Alliance ahead of the 2019 assembly elections. The BJP had also promised to increase OBC reservation. However, similar attempts in states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, to breach the 50% cap on reservation as fixed by the Supreme Court, have been turned down by the courts.

Making land records of 1932 as the basis for determining domicile in Jharkhand — where tribals make up for 26.5% of the state’s 32.6 million population as per the 2011 census — has been a political hot potato.

While the issue has been the bedrock of the JMM since its formation nearly five decades ago, a similar attempt by BJP leader and state’s first chief minister Babulal Marandi in 2002 had led to violence in the state, prompting the Jharkhand high court to strike down the decision.

During the budget session this year, chief minister Soren had said that making 1932 as the cut off year would not be legally maintainable, facing flak from a section of his own supporters including elected representatives.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Vishal Kant works as an Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times. He tracks developments in Aam Aadmi Party and Delhi government. Vishal has spent about a decade covering the city politics and governance, besides writing on Delhi’s civic issues, urban transport and infrastructure.

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