Law ministry asks Rajasthan to justify Gujjar quota proposal

June 2nd, 2008 - 10:19 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) The union law ministry Monday asked the Rajasthan government to find a “proper and justifiable” proposal for including the agitating Gujjar community in the Scheduled Tribe category. Top law ministry officials told IANS that the ministry, after examining Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje’s letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking four to six percent quota for the Gujjars, has given its opinion to the union home ministry.

“It (Raje’s letter) was not at all a proper legal proposal. The state government should have sent a proper and justifiable legal proposal on the issue,” said the official.

The issue of granting tribal status to a community concerns the union ministry of tribal affairs and the state government should have framed its proposal properly after consulting the ministry, the official said.

The state government also needed to justify its proposal on the basis of data on the Gujjars, including their numbers, their traditions, customs and lifestyle.

Citing provisions of Article 16 (4) of the constitution and its sub-clauses, the official pointed out that any state government is empowered to make a law for reservation for any backward class of its people.

The law ministry also wanted the state government to examine a Maharashtra government law that provides for some affirmative action for nomadic tribes.

The law ministry forwarded its opinion on Raje’s letter to the home ministry, which is the nodal ministry for coordination between the union and state governments.

In the wake of violent protests by the Gujjar community, Raje had written to the Prime Minister’s Office recommending four to six percent quota for Gujjars in the category of de-notified class of tribals or nomadic tribe.

The ongoing Gujjar agitation has left around 40 people dead in Rajasthan and neighbouring areas of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

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