Karnataka Assembly tables Bill to increase ST/SC reservation today

The Bill seeks to hike reservations for government jobs and admission to educational institutions
File photo of Karnataka State Assembly| (Pic: Express)
File photo of Karnataka State Assembly| (Pic: Express)

The Karnataka Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of Appointments or posts in the services under the state) Bill, 2022, will replace an Ordinance with the same title. The Bill, set to increase the reservation for SC/ST candidates, was tabled in the Legislative Assembly today, December 20.

The to-be-replaced Ordinance, promulgated on October 23, had increased reservations for SC candidates from 15 to 17 per cent and for ST candidates from 3 to 7 per cent. The State Cabinet on October 8 had accorded its formal approval to increase the SC/ST quota, and this decision was taken according to the recommendation from a commission headed by a retired judge of Karnataka High Court, Justice HN Nagamohan Das, as per a report by PTI.

"As the matter was urgent and both Houses of the State Legislature were not in session, the Ordinance was promulgated vide notification dated October 23 to achieve the objective, and all provisions of the Ordinance were brought into force with effect from November 1. The Bill seeks to replace the said Ordinance," the Bill states.

However, the decision to hike the reservation is yet to be ring-fenced under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, as it takes the reservation tally in Karnataka to 56 per cent, breaching the 50 per cent ceiling fixed by the Supreme Court in the 1992 Indra Sawhney case. Thus, the Opposition has been skeptical about it and questioning the government on its implementation.

Earlier today, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah petitioned Speaker Vishveshwar Hegde Kageri for an adjournment motion to discuss the reservation hike issue on priority in the Assembly, alleging that the government's move was politically motivated and has no real concern for the oppressed sections. He added that the matter needs to be seriously discussed in detail, as it includes constitutional and legal aspects, as per PTI.

Siddaramaiah pointed out that the central government, while responding to the reservation issue in the Parliament, has seemingly suggested that the reservation cannot be enhanced above 50 per cent. "We are not against increasing the reservation, we are in support of it. But there has to be a constitutional amendment and the reservation hike should be included under the ninth schedule to safeguard it; without doing it the ordinance was promulgated, which is not valid and maintainable. So it needs to be discussed," he said further.

Though Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhuswamy, who tabled the Bill, objected to a separate discussion on reservation hike, stating the issues will be discussed during the passage of the Bill. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai agreed to discuss the subject under a different rule instead of an adjournment motion. The Speaker concluded that he would fix the time for discussion.

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