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Recruitments restrained

Print edition : Feb 02, 2002 T+T-

THE Bharatiya Janata Party government in Uttar Pradesh has been firmly restrained by the Supreme Court from making any appointments under the new 'quota within quota' policy, which provided separate reservation to the most backward classes (MBCs) among the other backward classes (OBCs) and Dalits. The hastily drafted policy, announced on the basis of the recommendations of a Social Justice Committee, was obviously aimed at gaining political mileage ahead of elections by cutting into the support base of the Samajwadi Party (S.P.) and and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

The committee, which completed a marathon caste census for the purpose in a record two months' time, made a blatantly political suggestion that the OBCs be divided into three categories: Schedule A, B and C. Schedule A included Yadavs and Ahirs for whom the quantum of reservation was limited to 5 per cent. Schedule B comprised of eight groups, including the politically and financially strong Kurmis, Jats, Lodhas and Gujjars. For this category, ironically called the MBCs, the quantum of reservation prescribed was 9 per cent. Schedule C, categorised as extremely backward, consisting of 70 groups, including 22 backward ones in the Muslim community. The quantum of reservation prescribed for the category was 14 per cent. The overall quantum of reservation for OBCs was increased to 28 per cent from 27 as per the recommendations.

Dalits were categorised into two: Schedule A comprising Jatavs and Chamars for whom 10 per cent reservation, out of the total 21 per cent, was prescribed. The rest of the 65 Dalit castes were categorised under Schedule B and given 11 per cent reservation. This was aimed to wean the non-Jatav Dalits away from the BSP. The State government issued an ordinance in September last and replaced it with an Act in October. Recruitment procedures began on a war footing soon afterwards. Over 20,000 selections had been made under the new policy. The Chief Minister often stated that he intended to recruit up to 50,000 youths under the new policy before the elections.

The three-Judge Bench comprising Chief Justice S.P. Bharucha and Justices Shivraj V. Patil and B.P. Singh ruled that "the entire exercise seems to be done in a hurry". It rejected the government's contention, presented by Attorney-General Soli J. Sorabjee, that the recruitments be allowed subject to the final judgment of the court. The Judges said their order was very clear that no more appointments be made until all petitions challenging the policy had been disposed of. The new reservation policy was challenged by former BJP Minister Ashok Yadav, questioning the constitutional validity of the policy.

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