The Haryana Assembly last week passed a Bill to split the 20% quota for Scheduled Castes (SCs) in the state’s higher educational institutions into two, creating a quota within the quota for a new group of “Deprived Scheduled Castes”. The Deprived Scheduled Castes category has 36 communities including Valmiki, Bazigar, Sansi, Deha, Dhanak, and Sapera.
What does the new law say?
Section 3(1) of The Haryana Scheduled Castes (Reservation in Admission in Government Educational Institutions) Act, 2020 lays down that “twenty per cent seats shall be reserved for the members of the Scheduled Castes while making admission…”
Thereafter, Section 3(2) says: “Fifty per cent of the 20 per cent seats reserved for Scheduled Castes for admission in any Government educational institution shall be set aside for candidates belonging to deprived Scheduled Castes as enumerated in the Annexure”. Section 4 says that “Where a seat set aside for candidate from deprived Scheduled Castes… is not filled up in any academic year due to non-availability of candidate of deprived Scheduled Castes possessing the requisite qualifications, the same shall be made available to candidate of Scheduled Castes.”
Is this subquota a new idea?
No. The Manohar Lal Khattar government has replicated the initiative of the state’s Congress government in 1994, when Bhajan Lal was Chief Minister. Bhajan Lal’s government bifurcated the Scheduled Caste quota into two categories: Block A and Block B.
In 2006, the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed the 1994 notification, citing the decision of a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in E V Chinnaiah vs State Of Andhra Pradesh And Ors (November 5, 2004). Haryana filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court against the order. The SLP remains pending with the court, which did not grant a stay in the matter.
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What is the government’s argument?
The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act says that the representation of the Scheduled Castes now categorised as “Deprived Scheduled Castes” is “only 4.7%, 4.14% and 6.27% in Group A, Group B and Group C services respectively, even though their population is about 11% of the total State population”. Also, the Statement says, “the population of other Scheduled Castes in Haryana is also about 11% of the total State population but in respect of representation in Government Services their share is 11%, 11.31% and 11.8% in Group A, B and C, respectively.”
The reason for the poor representation of the Deprived Scheduled Castes in government jobs can be found in their educational qualifications, the Statement says. Thus, even though the “minimum prescribed educational qualification for majority of the posts of Group A, B & C services… is Graduation, the SECC (Socio-Economic Caste Census) data reveals that in terms of education, only 3.53% population of the Deprived Scheduled Castes is Graduate, 3.75% of them are Senior Secondary level and 6.63% are Matric/Secondary level. Also 46.75% of them are illiterate”.
What was the opposition to the move?
Congress MLA Geeta Bhukkal, herself a Dalit, attacked the Khattar government’s “divisive politics”. “This government believes in dividing society in the name of Jat and non-Jat, Dalits in name of Block A and Block B. Dalits don’t want to fight with each other. Such bifurcation is meant to divide our strength,” she said. According to Bhukkal, only Parliament can take a decision in such a case. “The matter has already been covered by the Supreme Court in the E V Chinnaiah case. The Haryana government’s move is unconstitutional.”
The Chief Minister said in the Assembly that Article 15(5) of the Constitution authorises the State to make special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for SCs/STs for admission to educational institutions. Bhukkal, however, argued that Article 15(5) did not mention powers to bifurcate the quota. “The government should have offered special package or scholarship to Block A to upgrade their educational status,” she said.
What happens now?
However, the legal battle in the Supreme Court will continue. The opponents of the move say it is unlikely to survive legal scrutiny, especially in the light of the E V Chinnaiah decision.
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