The Vasundhara Raje government on Wednesday tabled a Bill to provide 5 per cent reservation to Gujjars and four other castes which, if passed by the Assembly, would take reservation up to 54 per cent in the state, flouting the 50 per cent ceiling set by the Supreme Court.
The move comes after the Rajasthan High Court in December last year struck down five per cent reservation for these castes provided through The Rajasthan Special Backward Classes Act, 2015. Rajasthan faces elections a little over a year from now.
Gujjar leaders expressed their unhappiness with the Bill, calling it a “lollipop, which will again be challenged in the high court.”
The Rajasthan Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointment and Posts in Services under the State) Bill, 2017, seeks to provide 5 per cent reservation to Banjara, Baldiya, Labana; Gadiya Lohar, Gadoliya; Gujar, Gurjar; Raika, Rebari, Debasi and Gadariya, Gadri, Gayari.
Currently, reservation in Rajasthan stand at 49 per cent — 21 per cent for OBCs, 16 per cent for SCs, and 12 per cent for STs. With the 2015 SBC Act, the government had moved the five castes from OBC into a separate Special Backward Castes category.
However, the Act was quashed and the government moved them back into the OBC list on May 19 this year.
While striking down the Special Backward Classes Act last year, the High Court pointed out several flaws in the government’s process of granting reservations. It observed that reservation should not be provided “to achieve political goals” and that “ it is not that the Gujjars/Gurjars and others had no representation either for admission in the educational institutions or in services.” It also said that the state had failed to justify exceeding of the 50 per cent ceiling.
The government said that since the main reason behind striking down of the SBC Act were deficiencies in the state SBC commission’s report, the state government had appointed a committee led by retired High Court judge Sunil Kumar Garg that submitted its report to the SBC Commission on July 10 this year.
The Commission then submitted its final report on July 16.
According to the government, both the committee and the commission “unequivocally recommended” that these castes should be categorised as a separate class of “More Backward Classes” (MBCs) and should be provided 1 per cent reservation from within the limit of 50 per cent and 4 per cent from beyond the limit.
However, Samta Andolan Samiti (SAS) state president, Parashar Narayan Sharma, said the government’s move is in direct contempt of the Supreme Court.
“After the High Court struck down the 2015 SBC Act, the state approached the apex court earlier this year. But the apex court did not grant them relief and instead directed them to maintain the status quo with 49 per cent reservation,” Sharma said.
Gujjar leaders expressed their dissatisfaction with the Bill. Terming it a “lollipop”, Rajasthan Gujjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti leader Himmat Singh Gujjar said that “the government did not go by as per our agreement.”
Kirori Singh Bainsla, who led the Gujjar reservation agitation in 2007, told The Indian Express: “We are unhappy with the
Bill in its current form but let us hope for the best on Thursday.”
Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is scheduled to move a motion in the House on Thursday to pass the Bill.