New Delhi: Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale has expressed unhappiness over the Supreme Court’s dismissal of Center’s plea against a ruling, which held ‘department’ and not ‘university’ as a unit for deciding quota in the recruitment of teachers in UGC-funded institutions of higher education.
Speaking to News 18.com, he said that he would take this up with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the next NDA meet. Athwale said, “We are not happy with the SC dismissing the Center’s plea but the government will think over it. The DoPT assured representation of the SC/ST/OBC, which the department wise recruitment does not assure. Just like the SC-ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, we can approach the government for the next move.”
The bench headed by Justice Uday U Lalit rejected the appeal moved by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the UGC against the 2017-judgment by the Allahabad High Court. The bench termed the HC judgment as "logical" and disapproved of bunching of posts in any university, based on similar qualifications, pay scales and status.
Faith in Government
Athawale has hope that government of India will act in the spirit of social justice because of the stand the Department of Personnel Training (DoPT) took on July 2, 1997. At that time in compliance with the judgment of the Supreme Court in the matter of RK Sabharwal vs the State of Punjab, the government had warned against the small cadres to ensure SC/ST/OBC reservation.
DoPT defined cadre as, “a particular grade” that shall “comprise the number of posts to be filled by a particular mode of recruitment in terms of the applicable Recruitment Rules.” They warned against the practice of making small cadres as it would lead to denial of reservation to some categories.
Athawale hopes others to join the chorus too when he takes this up in next NDA meet. But this is not the first time that Dalit MPs have shown displeasure over the change in the roster system.
Last year in March, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot has asked HRD minister Prakash Javadekar for a rollback of the UGC circular, as he was critical of the way it was directly affecting the recruitment of SC/ST/OBC teachers, and wrote to the Human Resource Development minister.
Constitutional Provisions at Stake
The Dalit MPs have exhorted the government to ensure proper representation of marginalized sections in teaching positions and that the circular contradicts constitutional provisions which in return, contradicts the constitutional values and dents efforts to ensure that SC/ST/OBC categories get 15%, 7.5% and 27% jobs, respectively as per the constitutional provision.
According to Social Justice experts like PS Krishnan, when we take the university as a unit, the SC/ST/OBC get reservations to some extent. But with the new roster, according to which the reservations will consider the department as a unit, the number of SC/ST/OBCs as professors, assistant professors etc will decline in the academia.
Krishnan had explained when the controversy erupted that the number of these castes in teaching faculty will fall because under the new roster system because OBC will be eligible for reservation only at the 4th vacancy, SC on number 7th vacant post and ST only the 14th vacant post. And department-wise vacancies are usually very few, which means there would be not many jobs left by the time SC/ST/OBCs become eligible.
Academia Erupts in anger
The DUTA has been demanding that the Government brings an Ordinance/Bill for the 200 point Roster treating College/University as a unit.
“Department/Subject-wise roster is a way to deny constitutionally mandated percentages for SC/ST/OBC. This change will marginalise teachers and researchers from SC/ST/OBC background who have worked hard to be part of the mainstream,” Rajib Ray, President, Delhi University Teachers Association said.
He added, “Any change in the roster will see the displacement of thousands of adhoc teachers in Delhi University who are employed against 200 point roster treating College/University as a unit.”
The Democratic Teachers Front issued a statement saying that Supreme Court today has dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed by the Union Government against the Allahabad High Court order that had struck down the College/University wise reservation roster.
“This has exposed the Government’s opportunistic and insincere attitude towards reservation policy meant for the underprivileged sections of the society,” said the DTF members.