Karnataka government introduces bill to increase SC, ST reservation

The Karnataka Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Bill 2022, will increase reservation for SCs to 17 percent and for STs to 7 percent.

ByPTI

Published Dec 20, 2022 | 5:09 PMUpdated Dec 20, 2022 | 5:09 PM

Karnataka government introduces bill to increase SC, ST reservation

A bill to replace an ordinance hiking the reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/STs) in Karnataka was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, 20 December.

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, will replace the ordinance with the same title, which increased reservation for SCs from 15 to 17 percent and for STs from 3 to 7 percent. The ordinance was promulgated on 23 October.

The state Cabinet on 8 October accorded its formal approval to increase the SC/ST quota.

“As the matter was urgent and both Houses of the state legislature were not in session, the ordinance was promulgated vide notification dated 23 October to achieve the objective and all provisions of the ordinance brought into force with effect from 1 November. The bill seeks to replace the said ordinance,” the government said.

The decision to increase SC/ST quota was following the recommendation from a commission headed by a retired judge of Karnataka High Court Justice HN Nagamohan Das.

Opposition sceptical

The Opposition parties are sceptical about the government’s intention with the ordinance and now the bill, as the hike in the reservation will breach the 50 percent ceiling fixed by the Supreme Court in the 1992 Indra Sawhney case.

With the quota hike decision yet to be ring-fenced under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, leaving it vulnerable, as it takes the reservation tally in Karnataka to 56 percent, the Opposition parties have been questioning the government as to how they would implement it.

Earlier in the day, the Congress, led by the Leader of Opposition, Siddaramaiah, petitioned the Speaker Vishveshwar Hegde Kageri for an adjournment motion to discuss the reservation hike issue on priority in the Assembly, alleging that the government’s move was politically motivated and has no real concern for the oppressed sections.

Pressing to take up their adjournment motion, Siddaramaiah said the issue needs to be seriously discussed in detail, as it includes constitutional and legal aspects.

‘Discussion is necessary’

He pointed out that the central government while replying on the reservation issue in Parliament, has seemingly suggested that the reservation cannot be enhanced above 50 percent.

Siddaramaiah further said, “we are not against increasing the reservation, we are in support of it, but there has to be a constitutional amendment and the reservation hike should be included under the ninth schedule to safeguard it; without doing it, the ordinance was promulgated, which is not valid and maintainable. So it needs to be discussed .”

Though Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhuswamy, who tabled the bill, objected to a separate discussion on reservation hike, as the issues will be discussed during the passage of the bill, with Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai agreeing to discussion on the subject under a different rule instead of adjournment motion, the Speaker said, he would fix the time for discussion.

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