New Delhi: In complete violation of the central government’s reservation policy, a Kerala-based institute of 'national importance' under the Ministry of Science and Technology has been accused of depriving SC/ST and Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEdBCs) of representation.
The institute in question is Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), which, in its latest recruitment notification for applications to various group-level job opportunities, has restricted the reservation of SC/ST/SEdBCs to only entry level in Group ‘A’.
The Group ‘A’ category considers applications for Professors, Assistant Professors, Associate Professors, Scientists and Engineers.
The institute has provided for reservation only at the entry level for scientists and engineers. The notification calling for application will close on April 25.
Complaint to the Minister
The issue was brought to the notice of former secretary to Ministry of Welfare PS Krishnan, who then took the matter up with Minister of Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan.
Krishnan pointed out that SCTIMST was not following the government's reservation policy in the recruitment to Group ‘A’ posts and vacancies, including faculty vacancies for doctors, engineers and scientists, as is evident from its recent notification.
“This government may not get due credit for taking initiatives, more than any previous government except the VP Singh-led government to honour Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar,” Krishnan wrote to the minister.
The issue, he said, may have repercussions because these three social classes are already agitated over the alleged inaction and failure of the government on various issues of vital concern to them such as “piling up of huge arrears in post-matric scholarships for SC and ST students in recent years, resulting in many drop-outs and difficulty for those who have not dropped out” and “continuing atrocities against SCs and STs”.
What do the rules say?
As a public institute which receives grants from the central government, the SCTIMST is required to follow the reservation policies in all its recruitments, irrespective of the level.
Rules 25 and 26 of the SCTIMST Act, 1980, brought in place at the time the previously state government-owned institute received national university status, lay down clear provisions for reservation.
“But SCTIMST authorities have not shown interest in implementing reservation as per the central government's norms in the recruitment of Group-A officers,” wrote Krishnan.
The institute also allegedly violated the provisions provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs. On September 30, 1974, the Home Affairs Ministry had said that “all autonomous bodies — cooperatives, municipalities, universities and institutes, which are receiving grant-in-aid from the central government are directed to take suitable action for providing suitable reservation for SC/ST. Suitable provisions in the relevant statutes or in the Article of respective bodies need to be made.”
The institute has neither sought nor been given an exemption from the reservation policy by any competent authority as per Chapter 2.8 of the Reservation Policy, News18.com has learnt from sources.
If the exemption was granted, the reservation policy would be followed only at the entry level.
“(The) institute applied for exemption from the reservation policy in 2010, then again in 2016 in the Department of Science and Technology, and once again recently. They asked for clarification so we have reapplied and are waiting for the government's response, granting us the exemption,” said institute director Asha Kishore.
The provision of reservation is applicable to all state-owned institutes in India.
“There is no question of giving them exception because reservation policy is part of the measures required to fulfil the fundamental right of the SCs, STs and SEdBCs to Equality with the Socially Advanced Classes (SACs) in all parameters of development, welfare and life (sic),” wrote Krishnan in his letter.
Equality in the present context would mean that the proportion of the SCs, STs and SEdBCs in the institute should be no less than the prescribed reservation percentages of 15%, 7.5% and 27%, respectively. This has to be kept in view whenever posts and vacancies are filled up and notifications for recruitments must clearly prescribe reservation percentages.
Question in Parliament
MP Janardan Singh Sigriwal had asked a question in the Lok Sabha in this connection on April 4. He had asked whether SCTIMST was required to follow reservation rules while recruiting employees to various posts, including scientists.
Vardhan replied that “From its inception, the Institute has been following reservation norms fixed by the Government of India (Gol) for all its cadres, except in respect of the super specialty positions of the Institute that belong to Group ‘A’ category.”
This was in consideration of the fact that those recruited to scientific and technical positions under Group 'A' were engaged in research, development, design, production, testing in super specialty areas such as biomedical engineering and technology, medical services technology, advanced neurology and cardiology clinical and research facilities, Vardhan said.
In order to ensure enough representation for various reservation categories, “the institute has issued necessary orders to bring all Group ‘A’ entry-level academic posts, viz., Scientist ‘B’ and Engineer ‘B’ posts under the purview of reservation policy of Government of India from 2018 onwards,” Vardhan replied.
However, questions over SCTIMST's lapse in following regulations remain.