Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

[op-ed snap]The flawed unit of academic quotas

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level:  Making faculty at universities more inclusive.


NEWS

CONTEXT

Much more needs to be done to improve faculty diversity on university campuses.

History of Quota

  • Parliament has sometimes had to resort to even constitutional amendments to overturn some court rulings that have the effect of protecting the interests of ‘general candidates.
  • The 77th constitutional amendment of 1995, which was recently extended to Kashmir, restored reservation in promotions as a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney (1992) while upholding Other Backward Classes reservation based on Mandal Commission recommendations had prohibited Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) reservation in promotions.

Instances of overturning Judgements

  • The 81st constitutional amendment was made to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision against the ‘carrying forward’ rule, which permitted the filling of unfilled reserved seats in subsequent years.
  • Similarly, the 85th constitutional amendment was passed in 2001 to restore consequential seniority to promotee SC/ST employees as a ‘catch-up’ rule introduced by the court in Ajit Singh (1999) was causing hardship to SC/ST employees.
  • Last week, the  government promulgated an ordinance to undo the Allahabad High Court’s judgment in Vivekanand Tiwari (2017) which had relied on a number of other High Courts and a few apex court judgments such as Suresh Chandra Verma (1990), Dina Nath Shukla (1997) and K. Govindappa (2009) that had made ‘department’ rather than ‘university’ as the unit of reservation in universities.

Vivekanand tiwari Judgement

  •  In the beginning, Justice has said, “It is not a mandate but liberty given to the state. It is an enabling provision.” Thus, according to him, the government may not provide for reservation.

Article 335

  • Article 335 categorically says that “claims” of SC/STs to posts in Centre and the States ‘shall’ be taken into consideration. 
  • As opposed to ‘may’ or ‘will’, the use of the word ‘shall’, in law, means mandatory.
  • Judge devoted several additional pages to make out a case for the re-examination of the reservation policy by the government though there were no pleadings on this issue. He asked it to examine whether reservation at all is needed in university teaching posts.

Whether university or department as a unit for reservation

  • With the ‘university’ as the unit, in over 40 Central universities we have huge under-representation of SCs and STs especially at the level of professor and associate professor. If ‘department’ was allowed to be taken as a unit, these numbers would have been far less.
  • the government did share with the Supreme Court the BHU’s example of the adverse effect of using ‘department’ as the unit.
  •  For example, there were 1,930 faculty posts on May 12, 2017. If the BHU were to implement reservation based on using ‘university’ as the unit of reservation, 289 posts would have had to be reserved for SCs, 143 for STs and 310 for OBCs.
  • Under the new formula of using ‘department’ as the unit, the number of reserved positions would go down to 119 for SCs, 29 for STs and 220 for OBCs.

Impact of department as a unit on representation from weaker sections

  • Implementation of the department-wise reservation policy would have had a disastrous effect on other universities as well.
  • A study of 20 Central universities by the Central government has shown that reserved posts will come down from 2,662 to 1,241 in a year.
  • Thus department-wise reservation was a sophisticated beginning of an end of reservation. If SC/ST candidates do not become professors, they cannot become vice-chancellors as only a professor with 10-year experience is eligible for this. In 2018, out of some 496 vice-chancellors of Central and State universities, there were just six SC, six ST and 48 OBC vice-chancellors.

Way Forward

  • The government deserves appreciation for the ordinance.
  •  But we need to do more to improve diversity on our campuses with more SCs, STs, OBCs, Muslims, persons with disabilities and sexual minorities being recruited as faculty as our campuses do not reflect social diversity despite the university being a unit for reservation.
  • Let the score on the diversity index be a major criterion in giving grants to universities.
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments