The Rajya Sabha proceedings were disrupted again on Thursday as Opposition MPs resumed their protest on the new formula for implementing reservation in teaching jobs in colleges and universities. The government has said it would file a review petition in the apex court in the matter.
According to sources, in a meeting in the chamber of Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, Opposition MPs demanded that the government give an assurance on the floor of the House that should the review petition fail to have desired results, it would bring a legislation. Minister of State, Parliamentary Affairs, Vijay Goel, who was present in the meeting, did not agree. The MPs of SP and BSP, along with support from the Congress, have been agitating on the issue for the last couple of days.
The new formula has irked parties with a substantial support base among SC/ST and OBC communities because it results in limited seats available for recruitment by each department under reserved categories. The protests have been continuing for some time and on Wednesday, HRD minister Prakash Javadekar had told the Upper House about the government’s intent to file a review petition. The HRD ministry has already drafted a legislation in the matter and sent it to the cabinet for approval. There has been no movement on the matter since then.
Last month, a Supreme Court bench of Justices U U Lalit and Indira Banerjee rejected the Centre’s special leave petition which challenged the April 7, 2017 order of Allahabad High Court. The High Court had ruled that reservation in faculty positions in universities should be calculated department-wise and not by taking the total seats in a university as the basis.
In April 2018, the HRD Ministry filed an SLP following a political furore over the University Grants Commission’s March 5 order of the same year, announcing that the number of reserved faculty posts across universities and colleges would be calculated department-wise and not on the basis of aggregate vacant posts.
Opposition sources said that in Thursday’s meeting of floor leaders with Naidu after the House was adjourned, it was Congress leader P Chidambaram who raised the point of a legislation. “He said that there is no guarantee that a review petition would pass muster with the Supreme Court. The government instead should give an assurance that if the judicial route failed, it would take the legislative route. The government refused to give that assurance. Obviously, that is because there are concerns about upper caste backlash,” said an opposition source.