Rajasthan passes quota bills

Rajasthan today cleared two quota bills, placating Gujjars and economically weaker sections of upper castes with government jobs and quota seats in educational institutions.

The Rajasthan Special Backward Classes (SBC) (Reservation of seats in Educational Institutes in state and of Appointments and Posts in Services under the state) Bill, 2015 would provide five per cent reservation to the Gujjar community, who have been agitating for implementing the quota for long time now, beginning in 2007.

And the Rajasthan Economically Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutes in the State and of Appointments and Posts in Services under the State) Bill, 2015, would provide 14% reservation for economically weaker sections of the upper castes.

With these quotas in place, the reservation in Rajasthan would go up to 68%.  At present, it is 21% for Other Backward Class (OBC), 16% for Scheduled Caste and 12 % for Scheduled Tribe.

The Gujjars have been agitating for quota since 2007 when the first protest had turned violent leaving 72 dead. They had revived their stir in 2008 and 2010.  This May, the Gujjars took to railway tracks again, disrupting services and damaging public property.   

After a 10-day stand-off, the government pacified the Gujjars by promising to introduce the bills in the next session of the Assembly.  The government reiterated its commitment to provide five percent for Gujjars under SBC and 14% for EBC of upper castes.

The government today said it would try to include the new laws under Schedule IX of the Constitution as the quota now exceeds the 50% limit.

The Rajasthan High Court has already stayed similar reservation provisions in 2009 and 2013, observing that “more than 50% reservation without any valid justification is unconstitutional.”

Many leaders from other castes now say the Bills cannot be implemented as there would be many more litigations against in the court.

Legal experts say including the laws under Schedule IX of the Constitution does not provide it immunity from judicial review.  Immunity under Schedule XI was applicable till 2007 only. However, the Supreme Court delivered a judgment in 2007 saying there could not be any blanket immunity from judicial review of laws under the IX Schedule especially for laws which violate the basic structure of the Constitution.

Legal experts also say the government for now wants to keep the Gujjar community happy by passing the bills but cannot guarantee their implementation till the Parliament includes it in Schedule IX and gives it consent.   


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