Karnataka Reservation Bill

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    In News

    • Recently, the Karnataka government tabled a Bill in the Legislative Assembly to increase reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the state.

    Key Points

    • About:
      • The Chief Minister of Karnataka introduced The Karnataka Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of Appointments or posts in the services under the state) Bill, 2022.
      • It seeks to replace the ordinance of the same name.
    • Increasing Reservations:
      • Scheduled Castes- from 15 percent to 17 percent and 
      • Scheduled Tribes- from 3 percent to 7 percent.
      • While the SCs make up 16 percent of the state’s population, the STs constitute 6.9 percent.

    Stand of Karnataka Government

    • Increase in Population:
      • The government has cited that while the number of Scheduled Castes have increased in the state as more groups were included within it, and the population of both the communities has grown by leaps and bounds, the reservation has remained the same.
    • Need to update Old Reservation Scheme:
      • The current reservation of 15 percent and 3 percent was decided when the erstwhile Mysore state, from which the state of Karnataka was formed.
      • Later, Mysore joined the Union of India in 1948, and the President included certain castes and tribes in the ‘Scheduled’ category under Articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution.
    • Rising Demands:
      • There has been a continuous demand from the members of SC-ST communities for an increase in the reservation percentage, both in employment and educational institutions.

    Opposition’s Concerns

    • Opposition raised concerns about the legality of the Bill’s provisions, as it breaches the 50 percent cap on quotas, and sought a discussion on it.
    • The ruling government is eyeing the SC/ST vote bank.
    • There would be legal hurdles for the legislation, as it has to be included in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution.

    Observations of Various Committees

    • Justice Nagmohandas Committee Report
      • About:
        • In 2015, the Nayaka Students Welfare Federation approached the Karnataka High Court, seeking enhancement of SC-ST quota. 
        • Based on the HC’s orders, on July 22, 2019, the state government appointed a committee under former High Court judge Justice HN Nagamohandas.
      • Report:
        • The committee stated that there was evidence of social and educational backwardness among the communities. 
        • Such backwardness was much starker in populations living in the far-flung areas in the Western Ghats and in the drier regions of the state, adding that people here were unable to get the benefits of reservation. 
        • When compared with their population, there was evidence of inadequate representation of SCs and STs in education institutions and government jobs.
        • Based on the study, a special case was made for increasing the reservations for SCs up to 17 percent and STs up to 7 percent.
    • Justice Subhash Adi Report
      • About:
        • In March 2021, the ruling government set up another committee headed by retired high court judge Justice Subhash B Adi to study the issue. 
      • Report:
        • The report cited a study by National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, which states that 74 percent of tribal communities have remained invisible and their literacy rates are lower than 3 percent.
        • The report also mentioned that if there is a comparison made of the number of castes included under the SCs and STs in Karnataka vis a vis other states, it can be seen that though other states have notified a smaller number of castes, their percentage of reservation is higher
        • Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradeh were given as examples.

    Way Ahead

    • Eliminating the Causes: 
      • Reservation should not be allowed to become a vested interest. 
      • Real solution, however, lies in eliminating the causes that have led to the social, educational, and economic backwardness of the weaker sections of the community.
    • Creating More Jobs:
      • The growing reservation demands are proving unmanageable
      • Talking about adequate and proportional representation isn’t going to solve the unemployment problem.
      • Instead of quotas, the Union Government and states need to focus on job creation

    Source: IE