Gujjar reservation challenged in HC, 50% limit cited
At the time of the passage of the bill, deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot said the House had passed a resolution to request the Centre to make necessary amendments to the Constitution to protect it from legal scrutiny.Updated: Mar 02, 2019 09:45 IST
The Gujjar reservation bill has been caught in legal trouble after two petitioners challenged it in the Rajasthan high court on the ground that it crossed the 50% ceiling on caste-based reservations.
In another development, the Samata Andolan Samiti issued a legal notice to state’s chief secretary, personnel secretary, social justice and empowerment secretary and law and legal affairs secretary against the bill, saying it was a contempt to the status quo order passed by the Supreme Court in an earlier case related to reservation to five communities, including Gujjars.
The state assembly passed the Rajasthan Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointments and Posts in Services under the State) (Amendment) Bill, 2019, on February 13. The bill provided Gujjars and four other communities 5% reservation after increasing the reservation for other backward classes (OBC) quota from 21% to 26%.
At the time of the passage of the bill, deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot said the House had passed a resolution to request the Centre to make necessary amendments to the Constitution to protect it from legal scrutiny.
On Wednesday, two petitioners – Arvind Sharma and Badal Verma – challenged the bill, saying reservation beyond the 50% limit was unconstitutional.
“The state government has stated that reservation is under pressing need for upliftment while the actual pressing circumstance was the ongoing reservation agitation that has eventually taken entire state to ransom,” said their counsel Abhinav Sharma.
The petition will be listed for hearing next week, he added.
Sharma said reservation has been granted based on the proportionality of population of Gujjars and four other communities and not on the quantifiable data of backwardness in education and public employment.
Tourism minister Vishvendra Singh said on Friday that the government will put forward its defence in the court strongly. “When the 10% reservation (to economically backward classes) will not get stuck in court, how will the 5% reservation not pass the hurdle?” he asked.
In the other development, Samata Andolan Samiti president PN Sharma’s advocate Shobhit Tiwari said the Supreme Court, in its order on November 13, 2017, restrained the state government from crossing the reservation in Rajasthan beyond 50%.
Gujjars and other communities were given 5% reservation for the first time though the Special Backward Class (SBC) Act in 2015. The Samata Andolan Samiti challenged it in the Rajasthan high court, which quashed it on December 9, 2016. The state government challenged this HC order in SC. The apex court on February 3, 2017 directed the state government to maintain status quo, Tiwari said.
Recently Gujjars blocked railway and road traffic in eastern Rajasthan to demand reservation.