India Inc mulls quota action plan
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India Inc mulls quota action plan

The CII is going to set up a panel to petition the PM on the issue, report Sandeep Bamzai & Deepak Joshi.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2006 10:58 IST

The two sides which count are at work on the matter of reserving jobs for SCs and STs in the private sector.

While the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is in the process of setting up a select committee to petition the PM on the issue, the Government is considering a constitutional amendment to give legal shape to its plans to introduce the jobs quota.

The CII committee will be set up after new office-bearers take over on Thursday. "This committee will sit and deliberate on the future course of action on the matter of job reservations in the private sector," a CII source told HT. "We know that the Government is under pressure but we think this matter needs to be fleshed out properly. Once we've our strategy in place, we'll petition the PM on the subject."

Sunil Mittal, newly elected CII vice-president, said this was the way forward being contemplated by industry.

The cabinet is set to discuss the issue at a meeting in May -- after elections are over in five states. This follows the overwhelming legal opinion it has obtained, suggesting that a legislation without the necessary constitutional amendment will not meet judicial scrutiny.

The Sharad Pawar-led GoM looking into the issue of job quotas in the private sector got advice from legal experts like Attorney General Milon Bannerjee, jurist Fali S. Nariman and former Supreme Court judge K Ramaswami. The Law Ministry, however, favoured a law on quotas being put in the Ninth Schedule to keep it outside the pale of judicial scrutiny.

Ramaswami made specific recommendations on key articles of the Constitution which may require amendments to give a legal cloak to job reservations.

Nariman said any Act on reservations without necessary constitutional amendments would be ultra vires and be struck down by the courts. Banerjee was not supportive of any move to bring in a legislation. The Pawar-led GoM has met five times. Also, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Meira Kumar has independently met several industrialists - Ratan Tata, Anu Aga, Sunil Munjal, Amit Mitra and NR Narayan Murthy - in this regard over the past one year.

February end, GoM sent in its recommendations to the Cabinet. A detailed Cabinet note prepared on the issue clearly refers to the fact that though India Inc is agreeable to partial affirmative action, it is against the introduction of a jobs quota law. But officials told HT that industry's approach to even partial affirmative action was hazy. Though suggestions of two levels of training - with Rs 8,000-Rs 50,000 expenditure on an individual - were made, no concrete proposals (beyond a five-six page draft) were made available by industry.

First Published: Apr 20, 2006 03:12 IST