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How Ordinance on Reservation Roster for University Teachers Will Play Out? News18 Explains

File photo of Union minister Prakash Javadekar.

File photo of Union minister Prakash Javadekar.

Various students' and teachers' organisations had been urging the government to bring an ordinance to restore the 200-point roster taking college or university as a unit for reservation in teaching posts.

New Delhi: On Thursday the Union cabinet approved the proposal for promulgation of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers Cadre) Ordinance, 2019. The ordinance will bring back the 200-point roster system that considers the university as the unit rather than the 13-point roster system, prescribed by the Allahabad High Court, which considers department as the unit.

News18 explains what the rollback means and how it all began. The government stated that the decision will allow filling up of more than 5000 vacancies by direct recruitment in teachers' cadre duly ensuring that the constitutional provisions of Article 14, 16, and 21 are complied with.

How has the UGC Circular affected representation of SC, ST, OBC in teaching?

A directive by the University Grants Commission (UGC) which directly affected the recruitment of SC/ST/OBC teachers was issued by the UGC on March 5, 2018 according to which SC/ST/OBC vacancies would be filled taking a Department or Subject as one unit, and not the university.

The new notification was seen as an attempt to dent efforts to ensure representation for SC/ST/OBC categories as per the constitutional mandate of 15%, 7.5% and 27%. Under the earlier reservation roster, when the university was taken as unit, the SC/ST/OBC got reservations to some extent. But with the new roster, according to which the reservations will consider the department as a unit, there was to be a decline in the number of SC/ST/OBCs as professors, assistant professors etc.

How would it affect the representation?

The number of these castes in teaching faculty would have fallen because under the new roster system — the OBC will be eligible for reservation only at the 4th vacancy, SC on the 7th and the ST on the 14th. Department-wise vacancies are usually very few, which means there would be no jobs left by the time SC/ST/OBCs become eligible.

“The roster should be prepared taking university as unit and do away with the department being taken as a unit so that they get representation in academic world and teaching posts in the spirit of our Constitution,” the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot wrote to Minister of Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar in March 2018.

What is the Allahabad High Court order against the 200 point roster?

In April 2017, the Allahabad High Court heard the matter of recruitment of teachers in the Banaras Hindu University, a central education institute (Vivekanand Tiwari & Anr v Union of India and Ors). The petitioners wanted that the recruitment drive in BHU be cancelled and there should be a fresh beginning which treats each department of the university as the unit for calculating the number of faculty posts reserved for SCs, STs and OBCs. The Division Bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Daya Shankar Tripathi upheld the petitioners’ plea. UGC was criticised for applying reservation in teaching jobs in a “blanket manner”.

In June 2017, the Allahabad HC decision was upheld by a Supreme Court Vacation Bench of Justices R K Agrawal and Sanjay Kishan Kaul. As a result of this court ruling, the University Grants Commission examined 10 court judgments on the subject in its standing committee meetings. It recommended to the HRD Ministry that the High Court’s verdict should be applied to all universities. On March 5, 2018, UGC notified amendments to its 2006 guidelines.

What was the situation before? And what happened after the amendment to the clauses?

Following the Allahabad High Court order amendments were notified in the UGC circular to Clause 6(c) and 8(a)(v) of the UGC Guidelines 2006.

Before the amendment by the UGC, the practice of making department-wise roster was prohibited as it would lead to denial of reservation in smaller departments. According to the earlier clause 6(c): “…The practice of creating department-wise cadres, which tends to create single posts or cadres with artificially reduced number of posts in order to avoid reservation, is strictly prohibited.”

Clause 8 (a)(v) said, “The Roster, 40- point or 100-point as the case may be, shall be applied to total number of posts in cadre only (RK Sabharwal v. State of Punjab AIR 1995 SC 1371); cadre is best indicated by seniority list governing the members with the same pay-scale.”

But on April 7, 2017 the Allahabad HC granted a plea challenging an advertisement brought out by Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and praying for the squashing of these clauses. The court also directed “the respondent University to carry out the exercise of applying reservation to the posts under advertisement treating the department/subject as a unit for all levels of teachers.”

In the light of the court order, the UGC set up a committee that recommended amendment of clauses 6(c) and 8(a) (v). The government approved the amendment and the UGC notified it on March 5. After the amendment, the clauses read as follows:

Clause 6(c): In case of reservation for SC/ST, all Universities, Deemed to be Universities, Colleges and other Grant-in-Aid Institutions and Centres shall prepare the roster system keeping the Department/Subject as a unit for all levels of teachers as applicable.

Clause 8(a)(v): The roster, department-wise, shall be applied to the total number of posts in each of the categories [(e.g.) Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor] within the Department/Subject.

The amended clauses are opposed to the earlier stipulation, which specifically prohibited department-wise rosters as that would have the effect of defeating the implementation of the reservation policy. However, the DoPT assured the constitutional mandate

The UGC notification brought about a complete U-turn in the government’s position on reservation and paved the way for the defeat of the constitutional mandate.

The Department Of Personnel Training (DoPT) on July 2, 1997, in compliance with judgment of the Supreme Court in the matter of RK Sabharwal vs State of Punjab, had defined cadre as “Cadre, for the purpose of a roster, shall mean a particular grade and shall comprise the number of posts to be filled by a particular mode of recruitment in terms of the applicable Recruitment Rules,” and warned against the practice of making small cadres as it would lead to denial of reservation to some categories.

Is there an idea what effect the 13-point roster will have on the system?

The numbers are quite disturbing. There was ‘no representation of SC/ST after new circular’. After the issue of UGC circular on March 5, 2018 “only Central University of Tamil Nadu, Central University Rajasthan and Central University of Punjab had advertised for 65, 33 and 60 faculty,” as responded by the ministry in the Parliament. The startling fact that came to light was that “None of the seats advertised by the three Central Universities were reserved for SC/STs as per the revised department-wise roster. However, the number of posts that would have been reserved for SC/STs as per the earlier provision of reservation provided were – In Tamil Nadu the SC seats would have been 12, STs would have been 8. In Punjab University seats for SCs would have been 13 and for STs 10 seats. In Rajasthan nil.”

first published:March 07, 2019, 22:50 IST