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Channi fires salvo at own govt; asks why list of 28 law officers has no Dalit

Punjab has highest population of Dalits in percentage terms. Of party’s tally of 77 MLAs, 33 are SCs and BCs.

punjab Updated: May 26, 2018 10:44 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Channi,no Dalit law officer,Charanjit Singh Channi
The proposal to give 30% reservation to Dalits in govt appointments is yet to see light of the day. It is unfortunate that the community is being ignored from all sides,” Charanjit Singh Channi, technical education minister, said. (HT File )

The first note of dissent against the appointment of 28 new law officers has come from within the cabinet of chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

Technical education and employment generation minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Friday questioned why the list of 28 law officers engaged by the government on Thursday has no Dalit. Of the 28, one belongs to the backward caste and rest to the general category.

“The Congress is forgetting its ideology and the government its commitments made in the election manifesto,” Channi said.

The minister had sought reservation for Dalits when the Punjab Law Officers (Engagement) Act, 2017, was brought before the cabinet. “It was then agreed that a provision will be made in the Punjab Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes (Reservation in Services) Act, 2006, to reserve 30% posts in all government appointments for the SCs. But the bill has not seen the light of the day. It is pending with the department for welfare of SCs and BCs. It is unfortunate that the community is being ignored from all sides,” Channi told HT on Friday.

The minister had expressed resentment in a cabinet meeting even when the first lot of 121 law officers were appointed, saying just five among them were Dalits. He had also led a delegation to meet Congress president Rahul Gandhi last month after the cabinet expansion as none of the nine new inductees belonged to the Scheduled Caste or the backward class category.

Punjab has highest population of Dalits in percentage terms. Of party’s tally of 77 MLAs, 33 are SCs and BCs.

To buttress his claim on why Dalit law officers are needed, Channi points to the quota in promotion to SCs promised by the 85th amendment to the Constitution hitting a brick wall in Punjab. “The case was not argued well in the Punjab and Haryana high court by the state law officers. The facts and figures were not put before it. As a result, we lost the case,” he said.

Hailing from the Ravidassia community — the largest sub-caste among Punjab SCs — Channi was appointed leader of the Congress legislature party a year ahead of 2017 assembly polls.

Amritsar West MLA Raj Kumar Verka, who too had met Rahul over no representation to Valmikis in the cabinet, said he will bring the issue of no Dalits among new law officers to the notice of the CM when he (Amarinder) comes to Shahkot for a roadshow on Saturday.

First Published: May 26, 2018 10:44 IST