Four years in power, government has still not codified quota

May 21st, 2008 - 1:17 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) India’s ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has not codified the quota for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in jobs and promotions in the four years it has been in power, though it was a key promise in its common minimum programme (CMP). “All reservation quotas, including those relating to promotions, will be fulfilled in a time-bound manner. To codify all reservations, a reservation act will be enacted,” promised the CMP in May 2004.

The act is yet to see the light of day, though the UPA government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh completes four years in office Thursday.

In the absence of this act, all quota directives are open to challenge in courts.

Officials in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment point out that the government did formulate a bill in 2004, called the SC, ST and Other Backward Classes (Reservation in Posts and Services) Bill 2004. It was tabled in the Rajya Sabha Dec 22, 2004.

The bill was subsequently referred to the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice headed by E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan for study and suggestions if necessary.

“The bill along with the report of Natchiappan was referred to the group of ministers (GoM) headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The GoM has already reviewed the report and the bill, but it is not yet clear when the government wishes to table it in parliament,” sources said.

“The government should table the bill in the coming monsoon session of parliament,” Alok Kumar Mehta, an OBC MP, told IANS. “It is necessary to codify all executive orders and instructions about quota issued so far. The GoM has already looked into the matter, and there should not be any delay in enacting the law.”

SC and ST quotas have been administered since 1953 through an executive order. The OBCs got the quota through the same official directive in 1990 by the United Front government headed by Vishwanath Pratap Singh. The OBC quota was implemented in 1993 with the Supreme Court excluding the creamy layer from its ambit.

The government also introduced in parliament the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Bill, 2006 to provide 27 percent reservation to OBCs in government institutions.

“A similar bill is required to formalise earlier quota directives. Though these directives have the approval of both the parliament and the apex court, one can challenge them any time in the court of law,” an official in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment told IANS.

Natchiappan, a Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu, had stated in his report that SC/ST MPs favoured a separate law for their communities for reservation as “their sufferings, grievances and other issues related to them need to be looked at differently.

“The committee after interacting with the OBC MPs gathered the impression that there was no support in favour of a separate legislation from their side,” Natchiappan wrote in the report.

The official said: “In the case of OBCs, only socially and educationally backward people are eligible for reservation, while for SCs and STs, there is no such criterion. So they have to be seen differently.”

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Politics |