Telangana: SCs, BCs jittery over 10% quota to STs

The state government has initiated the process to increase the reservations for the ST community from the current 6 per cent to 10 per cent

Hyderabad: The state government has initiated the process to increase the reservations for the ST community from the current six per cent to 10 per cent in a week by issuing a GO, as Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao had promised on September 17 when addressing the Adivasi and Banjara communities at a public meeting at NTR Stadium.

Following the instructions from the CM, the department of Scheduled Castes and law department have initiated the exercise to draft the GO. However, people in the other reserved categories such as BCs and SCs are worried that the recruiting process may be delayed as a result of legal cases when the GO enhancing ST reservations is issued as it breaches the 50 per cent ceiling on quotas set by the Supreme Court.

Other reserved categories do not want the government to release the GO in a hurry and create unnecessary scope for legal complications which could delay the recruitment process for which they had been waiting for years.

The GO issued by the previous TD government of Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao in undivided Andhra Pradesh in 1986 was said to be the basis for the Telangana government to issue the GO enhancing reservations for the ST community.

On July 15, 1986, the NTR government had issued GO 167, increasing the SC reservations from 14 to 15 per cent and ST quota from 4 to 6 per cent in accordance with their population. However, neither the Supreme Court-imposed 50 per cent cap nor the AP government's 50 per cent reservations had been violated at the time.

The TRS government wants to enhance the ST reservation to 10 per cent on the ground that the population of the community in Telangana had increased to 9.34 per cent as per the Census 2011 due to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014. The ST population in undivided AP as per the Census 2011 was 6.99 per cent.

The TS government's August 2014 Intensive Household Survey conducted in August 2014 also indicated that the ST population in Telangana was nearly 10 per cent. On the basis of official statistics, the TRS government seeks to increase ST reservations and will present the statistics to the courts if the GO is contested.

The GO is being drafted in a way that it will come into force with immediate effect next week. The state government will then give directions to the recruitment agencies such as TS Public Service Commission (TSPSC), State-Level Police Recruitment Board (TSLPRB), and Telangana Universities Common Recruitment Board to implement the enhanced ST reservations as per GO in the ongoing recruitment exams.

It may be noted that Chandrashekar Rao had made a statement in Assembly in March that the government would fill 91,000 posts, of which 80,000 vacancies will be filled through direct recruitment and another 11,000 vacancies by regularisation of services of contract employees.

The government has released notifications for 53,000 vacancies in the last three months and the notifications for the remaining 17,000 vacancies are expected to be released by this month-end. With the enhancement of ST quota to 10 per cent, the ST candidates will get 8,000 jobs.

Legal experts opined that the state government had powers to increase ‘state specific reservations' by issuing GOs following the 105th Constitutional Amendment made by the Centre which came into force from August 15, 2021. But they stated that those GOs can be challenged in the courts and the final decision lies with courts.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, former TS advocate general K. Ramakrishna Reddy, said, "The Centre empowered states to take decisions on reservations as per their needs in proportion to population of respective categories from August 2021. There is no need for states to consult Centre in this regard or send GO for Centre's approval"

“It's a different issue whether such GOs stand legal scrutiny or not if someone challenges them in courts as SC has fixed upper ceiling of 50 per cent for extending reservations. The case pertaining to the 10 per cent quota for EWS is pending in the Supreme Court. If the EWS quota is also taken into consideration, the total reservations in TS will increase to 64 per cent. The OCs will be left with just 36 per cent jobs. It all depends on what courts decide finally," Ramakrishna Reddy said.

Expressing concern over possible legal hurdles to enhanced ST quota, National BC Welfare Association president R. Krishnaiah said the state government should not act in a hurry to fulfill its promise of issuing ST GO in a week.

"It's the responsibility of the government to ensure that the recruitment process is not halted due to legal complications. It should take adequate safeguards in consultation with legal experts. Students and unemployed have lost seven years as there are no job notifications since 2016. The government started issuing notifications in the last three months for which lakhs have applied. If at this stage, the recruitment process is stalled due to court cases, it would lead to severe unrest," he said.

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