Earlier this week, Delhi University faculty held a candle light march in the north campus area to urge the Centre to pass an ordinance to do away with the 13-point roster – and reintroduce the 200-point roster.
It wasn’t the first demonstration since the Supreme Court on Tuesday, 22 January, upheld the Allahabad High Court decision to implement the new roster system for reservation for teaching posts. A Twitter storm has been raging alongside among aspiring teachers and concerned citizens.
So, what are these rosters and why is a change making the teachers unhappy?
What is the 200-Point Roster?
In order to understand the issue, it is necessary to take a look at the previously existing system of reservation that was used to fill the teaching positions in Central universities.
Under the 200-point roster system, the entire college was taken as one unit, across which the reserved seats could be distributed, wrote Delhi University professor Anish Gupta in The Hindu.
According to journalist Dilip Mandal in The Print, this system was capable of ensuring that out of 200 posts, 99 will go to the SC, ST, and OBC communities and 101 will be left unreserved.
This way, provided that 200 appointments were made in the entire college or university, every reserved category was given the earmarked number of seats across various departments. This meant that a deficit of reserved seats in one department could be compensated by filling more seats in different departments of the college, therefore ensuring the constitutionally mandated reservation, according to professor Gupta.
What is the New 13-Point Roster?
In April 2017, finding the existing 200-point roster system faulty, the Allahabad High Court implemented a new reservation system, shifting to the 13-point roster.
The new system works by holding each department of the college or university as one unit, and taking into account all teaching positions – professor, associate professor and assistant professor, according to The Hindu.
According to this system, the first, second, third, fifth and sixth posts will be unreserved in a department, while the fourth will be reserved for OBCs. The seventh seat will be reserved for an SC, the 14th post will be reserved for STs and the eighth and 12th for OBCs, while the ninth, 10th and 11th will be unreserved.
This roster is made by dividing 100 by the percentage of reservation granted to a particular group, according to the report.
Reservation for the OBCs is 27 percent, hence 100 divided by 27, which rounds off to the fourth position. Similarly, an SC gets the 7th position (100/15=6.7), and an ST gets the 14th post (100/7.5=13.3).
Why Did the Allahabad HC Make the Change?
According to the Allahabad HC, clubbing people across departments “violated Article 14 [equality before the law] and Article 16 [equality of opportunity in matters of public employment] of the Constitution”.
This they justified by stating that teachers in different departments “are neither transferable nor they are in competition with each other,” reported Scroll.
The court’s other reason was that the previous roster could mean that distribution of reserved positions would be uneven across departments.
According to them, “it could result in some departments having all the reservations, and some departments having only unreserved candidates.”
The Centre was not given leave to appeal the High Court ruling. In March 2018, the UGC put out a notification directing the use of the 13-point roster, taking each department as a unit.
Since the Allahabad HC judgement in April 2017, protests have been underway. The Centre eventually filed a special leave petition (SLP) against the UGC notification, staying the decision.
However, on 22 January, 2019, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition, upholding the Allahabad HC’s verdict, said a report.
Why the Furore?
The decision of the apex court and a realisation of the consequences of the shift have led many to express their anger and disappointment on Twitter. Jignesh Mevani sounded a call for people to join a protest against the new roster.
एकलव्यों का अंगूठा काटने के भाजपा के द्रोणाचार्यो के खिलाफ कल जरूर जुड़िए। यह मुद्दा मोदी जी को पकोडे तलवा शकता है, सचमुच। pic.twitter.com/IujvBe3hUh— Jignesh Mevani (@jigneshmevani80) January 30, 2019
Politicians Tejashwi Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav also tweeted against the new roster, standing in support of reservation.
Activist Kavita Krishnan also tweeted, demanding that an ordinance be brought to restore the 200-point roster.
SC verdict upholding 13 point roster for appointments in faculty positions will lead to slashing of SC ST OBC reserved positions. @PMOIndia - immediately bring ordnance, enact law to restore 200 point roster for proper implementation of reservations in faculty positions. pic.twitter.com/5x6WopbsSx— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) January 24, 2019
According to the protesting teachers, the new system will effectively bring an end to the constitutionally mandated reservation that was given in the previous system, according to reports.
The problem, they say, is that constitutionally mandated reservation percentages cannot be followed in departments with smaller number of teachers.
As shown in the calculation, a department would need at least four teachers for an OBC candidate to get a post, at least seven for an SC, and at least 14 for an ST to get posts in the department. This, however, is not possible in smaller departments such as Sanskrit and Environmental Science, where the teacher requirement is low.
The DU faculty has written to the Human Resources Department, complaining that the new system will defeat the purpose of India’s reservation policy, reported The Tribune.
A DU professor told The Hindu that the percentage of SC/ST and OBCs in educational institutions is already much below the percentage mandated by the government. According to him, this roster will mean that reservation will be completely washed away from the faculty positions of the universities.
Speaking to The Hindu, AISA national president Sucheta De said, “The new department-wise roster is in line with the anti-Dalit and anti-reservation stance of the government.” She argued that it would bring an end to opportunities for teachers from SC/ST/ OBC communities in universities.
Despite all the letters and protests, however, the government has not taken any decision against the new roster, meaning that vacant posts in Central universities will be filled by these calculations.
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