Recently the Haryana Assembly passed a bill to split the 20% quota for Scheduled Castes (SCs) in the state’s higher educational institutions into two, to create quota within the quota for a new group of “Deprived Scheduled Castes”. 

The need for subcategorization: Lack of education and less representation makes some castes as distinct from others, that is why subcategorization is needed.

  • Less representation: Employee data reveals that the total representation of a section of the Scheduled Castes in the government services in Haryana of “deprived Scheduled Castes” is only 4.7%, 4.14% and 6.27% in Group A, Group B, and Group C services, respectively.
  • The reason for poor representation is mostly due to poor education.SCs account for 11% of the total population. However, with respect to representation SCs are not represented well in government services.
  • Lack of education: Only 2.13% population of the deprived SCs is graduate, 3.78% of them are senior secondary and 6.74% are matriculated. Around 33.6% of SC are illiterate.
  • There were two categories of deprived people. Block A scheduled castes or the deprived scheduled castes were not so educationally qualified as the data from SECC 2011.
  • The representation in Group A, Group B, and Group C services is 11%, 11.31% and 11.8% for Block B scheduled castes (who are also about 11% of the total population).

What is the new law?

  • Section 3(1) of The Haryana Scheduled Castes (Reservation in Admission in Government Educational Institutions) Act, 2020: According to this section “twenty percent seats shall be reserved for the members of the Scheduled Castes.
  • Out of the total 20% reserved for SC in the graduation and post-graduation courses, the bill provides reservation of 50% seats to the deprived scheduled castes.
  • Section 4: If a seat set aside for a candidate from deprived Scheduled Castes is not filled up in any academic year, the same should be made available to candidates of Scheduled Castes.
  • This will cover all educational institutions maintained by the government or receiving aid out of the state funds. It also includes government and government-aided technical and professional institutions. 
  • The sub-classification of the reservation will be applicable for graduation and post-graduation level courses in educational institutions. 

Sub-quota, not a new idea:

  • The issue of the sub-categorization of SCs has been a contentious one in Haryana politics.
  • Congress government in 1994: The government bifurcated the Scheduled Caste quota into two categories: Block A and Block B.
  • However, it was quashed in 2006 by the Punjab and Haryana High Court citing  E V Chinnaiah vs State Of Andhra Pradesh And Ors (November 5, 2004).
  • E V Chinnaiah vs State Of Andhra Pradesh And Ors (November 5, 2004): SC has upheld that the castes specified as Scheduled Castes under Article 341 of the Constitution are a homogeneous group for the purpose of the Constitution. 
    • The judgment stated that the benefits of reservation are available to members of all such cases which have been specified as Scheduled Caste in relation to a State/Union Territory. 
  • Haryana government had filed a special leave petition against the order and the final order is still pending in the court.

Arguments against the subcategorization:

  • Subcategorization is already declared as unconstitutional in  E V Chinnaiah vs State Of Andhra Pradesh And Ors case.
  • Such moves of categorizations divide people in the name castes.
  • Article 15(5) empowers the government to make special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens. However, it did not mention the powers to bifurcate the quota. 

Way ahead:

Empowering SCs:

  • Education and Awareness about the provisions in the Constitution: it is observed higher education level indicates higher awareness and lower the education level lower the awareness.
  • Social mobility: Educational advancement, employment opportunities, participation in social and religious ceremonies, participation in socio-cultural activities, interpersonal interactions, inter-dining, inter-caste marriages, etc. play a significant role in reducing the social distance and bridging the gap between the higher and lower caste.
  • A principled approach based on 4R’s i.e. Respect, relevance, reciprocity, and responsibility should be followed.

Constitutional provisions for Scheduled Caste

  • Article 15: Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
  • Article 16: Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favor of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.
  • Article 19: Freedom of speech

✓ to freedom of speech and expression;

✓ to assemble peaceably and without arms;

✓ to form associations or unions;

✓ to move freely throughout the territory of India;

✓ to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India;

✓ to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

  • Article 46: Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
  • Article 335: Claims of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to services and posts The claims of the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be taken into consideration, consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration, in the making of appointments to services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State.
  • Article 332: Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States.
  • Article 334: the reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People and in the Legislative Assemblies of the State.
  • Article 341: The President may with respect to any State or Union territory after consultation with the Governor specify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes as Scheduled Castes in relation to that State or Union territory.
  • Article 338: National Commission for Scheduled Castes.
  • Article 17: Article 17 of the Constitution of India abolishes the practice of untouchability in India. The practice of untouchability is declared as a crime and anyone doing so is punishable by law.
  • Article 243D: Seats shall be reserved for

✓ The Scheduled Castes; and

✓ The Scheduled Tribes, in every Panchayat and the number of seats so reserved shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in that Panchayat as the population of the Scheduled Castes in that Panchayat area or of the Scheduled Tribes in that Panchayat area bears to the total population of that area and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Panchayat.

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