The Madhya Pradesh cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Monday cleared the bill for reservation for OBCs to 27% in government jobs and educational facilities. This came after the Madhya Pradesh High Court set aside an Ordinance by the Kamal Nath government giving 27 % reservation to OBCs, saying it breached the 50 per cent cap out by the Supreme Court.
At present, OBCs have 14% reservation in the state, while Scheduled Castes and Tribes have 36%.
Citing quota cap breach, the Madhya Pradesh High Court on March 15, 2019, had stalled the State government’s ordinance increasing reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) category to 27% from the earlier 14%.
Soon after coming to power, the Congress government in the State had issued an ordinance on March 8 increasing the reservation in the OBC category to 27%.
The government’s quota move had led to reservation in the State reaching 63%, a breach of the 50% cap on reservation, the HC had said.
Addressing the media, minister for law PC Sharma said, “The council of ministers gave its nod to the announcement made by Kamal Nath earlier. Now, the government will table a Bill in this regard in the state assembly.”
Nath had announced to increase OBC quota reservation in the first week of March, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. If the 27% OBC reservations Bill gets the House nod, caste-based reservations will go up to 63% in the state. If the Modi government’s 10% quota for EBCs also gets the state government’s nod, the total reservation will rise to 73%.
Just ahead of 2003 assembly polls, the then Digvijaya Singh-led Congress government had also made a similar announcement regarding quota to OBCs, but since the party lost the polls, the decision could not be implemented.
In 1992 a nine-judge Supreme Court bench had ordered in the Indra Sawhney case that caste-based reservations cannot go above 50%. But minister for law PC Sharma said that the apex court’s ruling will pose no hurdle in the implementation of the 27% quota for OBCs.
“There are many states where caste-based reservations are higher than 50% and we see no problem in the implementation of OBC quota in MP,” he said.
Congress Rajya Sabha MP Rajmani Patel has also backed the state government’s move saying the Constitution says that depending on geographical description and population of the state, reservations can be fixed. “Tamil Nadu has 69% caste-based reservations.”
Some states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have caste-based reservations that exceed 50% but these announcement and implementation took place before the landmark judgement in the Indra Sawhney case in 1992. Post SC ruling, Rajasthan and Maharashtra announced caste-based reservation above the 50% ceiling but it was struck down by courts.
In another important decision, DA of employees and pensions has been increased by 3% from January onwards. At present government employees were getting 9% DA, after hike they will get 12% equal to the central government.
Public Relation Minister PC Sharma, said after the cabinet, the decision of government will add an additional burden on state exchequer to the tune of ₹1647 crores. More than 4.7 lakh employees and 4 lakh pensioners will avail benefit of this decision.
Cabinet has also approved for auction of diamond mines in Chhatarpur district. Government has estimated the auction value at ₹60,000 crores.
Giving boost to science and technology, cabinet has decided to to open science centres in Chhindwara and Jabalpur. A science city in Bhopal has also been approved.