According to reports, the union government is considering bringing an ordinance to nullify the effect of a recent Supreme Court judgement on reservation in higher educational institutions.
In January this year, the Supreme Court of India had dismissed a petition of central government challenging an Allahabad High Court order to calculate the number of reserved posts in SCs, STs, and OBCs in Universities department-wise, as opposed to the earlier method of calculating the same institution-wise. This order had the far-reaching impact of reducing the number of reserved posts in higher educational institutions by at least 50-60%, and upto 90-95% in many institutions.
The Allahabad High Court order, issued on 7th April 2017, had changed the formula to calculate the number of reserved posts from the earlier 200 point to roster to a 13 point roster system. The order had said that every department in a university or college has to be taken as a separate unit while calculating the number of reserved posts, instead of the earlier practice of taking the whole institution as a single unit. UGC had immediately implemented this order, which had resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of reserved posts in advertisements issued for vacancies in higher educational institutions. Therefore, the government had filed a curative petition in the apex court challenging the Allahabad High Court order. When the Supreme Court rejected the petition, the govt had prepared a bill to restore the original reservation formula, but could not table it in the parliament due to lack of time.
Let us see in detail how the court order reduces the number of reserved posts. As per the current reservation policy, there is 27% reservation for OBCs, 15% reservation for SCs and 7.5% reservation for STs. Now, if the number of reserved posts for any category does not reach at least 1, no reserved post is offered for that category. For example, if there is an advertisement for only 3 posts, there will be no reservation as the number of reserved posts for OBC becomes less than 1. There have to be minimum 4 posts for a 1 reserved post for OBC, minimum 7 posts for 1 reserved post for SCs, and minimum 14 posts for 1 reserved post for STs.
This is how reserved posts are allocated under the current 13 point roster:
When the entire institution was taken as a unit, there was enough reservation for reserved categories as the number of total posts in an average university or college far exceeds the number of 14. But things change drastically when departments are taken as units, because in many departments in many institutions, the number of teachers may be less than 14. Several less popular departments in average colleges have 2-3 faculty positions, which means these departments don’t have any quota in the current system. Not just caste-based quota, this also affects the newly introduced 10% reservation for economically weaker sections, as if the number of posts in a department is less than 10, there will be no quota under this category.
The situation is worse for universities, because not just departments, even different categories of teaching positions like Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor, etc, are taken as separate units in every department, which means that practically there is no reservation at all in universities under the new formula.
To see how gloomy the picture has become under the new formula, we can see this advertisement for 52 teaching positions issued in April last year by Indira Gandhi National Tribal University.
Under the old system, there would have been 20 reserved posts as it would have been calculated on the total number of vacancies. But under the new formula, only 1 post for OBC is reserved, while the rest 51 posts are under the unserved category. It’s a big irony that this is the only central university dedicated to tribal studies, but probably there will never be a reserved post for STs if the current formula continues.
Recruitment advertisements issued by several institutions over the last several months tell a similar story, a drastic reduction in the number of reserved category positions. The following table, compiled by Economic and Political Weekly based on recruitment advertisement issued by various institutions, show the effect of the new formula.
The Ordinance to be issued by the government will revert the court order to restore the old 200-point roster for reservation. Human Resource Development minister Prakash Javedkar has said that the ordinance will be brought in two days. The Union Cabinet is expected to recommend the ordinance on Thursday.
March 7, 2019 update: The Union Cabinet today okayed the proposal for ordinance restoring 200-point roster in faculty jobs.