While addressing the BJP’s booth level workers from the Lok Sabha constituencies of Kolhapur, Hatkanagle, Madha, and Satara in Maharashtra and South Goa through video-conference on Saturday (January 19,2019), the Prime Minister claimed that his government’s decision to provide 10 per cent reservation to the economically weaker sections (EWS) in the general category was giving “sleepless nights” to the opposition and said that the government would ensure that no one faced injustice and that the quota for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes remain intact.
But despite the assurance given by the Prime Minister, the question still remains unanswered; whether the SC/ST/OBC (Already Reserved Categories-ARC) will be getting the same seat share as before?
The answer is a clear cut NO. How can the ARC’s get the same share, when their entry has been curtailed to 40 per cent on unreserved seats instead of previous 50 per cent under open category in addition to their own limited reserved sphere by setting aside the 10 per cent seats for newly created EWS category? Presently, the central jobs are 49.5 per cent reserved, segmenting 15 per cent for SC, 7.5 per cent for ST, 27 per cent for OBC and the remaining 50 per cent (in the round figure) kept for open candidates of all castes and religions, including the ARC’s. Before the implementation of the newly created EWS category, these ARC’s are also getting the chances of selection on 50 per cent open seats in addition to their reserved seats, but now after giving 10 per cent seats to EWS, their sphere of competition has been downsized to 40 per cent seats.
It can be understood by an example. Suppose there are 1,200 seats for IAS examination. Previously the ARC’s were getting the chance to compete for 600 (50 per cent) open seats also in addition to their reserved share, but now they will be debarred to compete for 120 seats (10 per cent reserved for EWS) leaving behind only 480 seats (40 per cent) under open merit category, because as per prevailing rules and court decisions a candidate of ARC, who gets higher merit catches open merit seat despite his reserved category and his claim on reserved seat vacates automatically giving chance to another low merit ARC candidate. This gives double benefit to the ARC candidates. However, now the seats under open merit will go down by 10 per cent; hence, a curtailment of chances to get 10 per cent extra seats for ARC’s due to this EWS reservation.
And the worst affected category by this snatching of the 10 per cent portion will be the lowest strata of the SC/ST/OBC candidates who belong to the underprivileged families and are the really entitled for the reservation ladder. Due to their social, economic, and educational backwardness, some of the ARC candidates could neither get a city-based good education, coaching facility and nor afford costly study material for upper-level competitive examinations in comparison to their well to do category fraternity.Now, after cutting down the 10 per cent seats under open merit category for EWS, the well to do category candidates of these ARC’s, who previously got the place in open merit seats due to their higher merit in this 10 per cent slab, will now turn down towards their reserved category seats and will shunt out the lower strata ARC’s having the lower merit. So, the lowest strata ARC’s will be the worst losers.
How the ARC’s get the extra benefit of own merit out of their category?
In Indra Sawhney v. Union of India (1992) popularly known as the Mandal case, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had held:
“[It] is well to remember that the reservations under Article 16(4) do not operate like a communal reservation. It may well happen that some members belonging to, say, Scheduled Castes get selected in the open competition field on the basis of their own merit; they will not be counted against the quota reserved for Scheduled Castes; they will be treated as open competition candidates.”
The government of India, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Department of Personnel and Training Establishment (Reservation-I) Section through its letter F.No.43011/4/2018-Estt.(Res.) Dated April 4, 2018, had also supported the gist of Indra Sawhney. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in its judgment in the case of R.K.Sabharwal vs. State of Punjab, had, inter-alia, observed that “the reserve category candidates can compete for the non-reserve posts and in the event of their appointment to the said posts their number cannot be added and taken into consideration for working out the percentage of reservation.” (Letter attached).
Now, in the end, the question again arises that how the central as well state governments will compensate the ARC’s loss of job chances after snatching a 10 per cent slab of their scope of getting jobs under open merit scheme? How the Prime Minister will ensure that no one faced injustice and that the quota for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes remain intact? The government should immediately make open its plan to satisfy the resentment of ARC’s. Here it is also very astonishing that no other party also raised this issue while supporting the government bill in parliament as well as outside the house. Were they so terrified to lose the upper caste votes that they forgot all the consequences of the bill?
-Jag Mohan Thaken
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