The Narendra Modi government has put on hold recruitment for faculty positions in universities and colleges pending a decision on the special leave petition (SLP) that the the Union government has filed against a court order curtailing reservation for SC/STs and OBCs, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said in Parliament, replying to a zero hour mention in the Rajya Sabha, in an attempt to placate members of the Opposition.
Javadekar said the government is committed to 50 per cent reservation to SC/STs and OBCs and that it "does not agree" with the Allahabad High Court ruling that had in last April struck down a circular prescribing institution-wise reservation to fill vacant faculty positions.
"We are hopeful we will be able to save reservation for SC, ST and OBCs," he said.
"Reservation is a constitutional right...we stand by reservation and are committed to provide it to SC/STs and OBCs," he said, adding that the Union government and University Grants Commission (UGC) have filed separate SLPs against the order and the next date of hearing is on August 13.
Earlier, raising the issue through a zero hour mention, Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party said the UGC had on March 5 issued a new 13-point reservation roster for SC/ST and OBC category that provided for preparing reservation list keeping department/subject as a unit instead of the university/college
He said the Allahabad High Court order was later upheld by the Supreme Court, forcing UGC to issue a March 5 circular laying down a new mechanism for implementing faculty reservations.
This meant calculating reservation in teaching posts by departments, instead of basing the quota as on the number of posts available at university.
Previously, SC, ST and OBC faculty positions were calculated by treating an entire university as a unit. It grouped all posts of a grade, such as assistant professor, in all departments of a university to arrive at a calculation. Under the new formula, where every department will be considered one separate unit, there will be a lower chance of positions being set aside for SC/STs and OBCs as there may be fewer openings.
Earlier, raising the issue through a zero hour mention, Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party said the UGC had on March 5 issued a new 13-point reservation roster for SC/ST and OBC category that provided for preparing reservation list keeping department/subject as a unit instead of the university/college.
He said as per the Constitution, 15 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 27 per cent reservation is provided for SC/ST and OBC respectively.
The UGC had specifically prohibited the practice of making department-wise cadres as that would lead to denial of reservation in small departments.
He demanded that the UGC order be declared "null and void", a demand that was supported by Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad who said the roster would curtail reservation to SC/STs and OBCs.
Azad said while the Constitution provided for reservation to SC and ST, the Congress-government had in 1993 provided the same to other backward classes (OBCs).
The practice of creating department-wise category is strictly forbidden, he said.
Ashok Siddharth of the Bahujan Samaj Party said after the UGC order, vacancies have been advertised. These needed to be stopped, he added.
(With Agency inputs)