Disabled, women not in 50% quota cap


by Dhananjay Mahapatra


The Times of India
September 5, 2007

NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court has said that the 50% cap on reservations mandated by it does not cover the 3% quota in force for the disabled as well as the one that may be introduced for women. This means, the pie for the unreserved categories will shrink further.

The clarification about the 50% ceiling, prescribed by the apex court in 1992 as part of its judgment upholding the Mandal quota for OBCs, came last week from a division bench comprising Justices S B Sinha and H S Bedi.

"The reservation for women and handicapped persons would not come within the purview thereof," said the bench.

The significant ruling implies that general-category applicants have only 47% of vacancies in government jobs to compete for, and that the available pie will further diminish if government were to introduce a quota for women.

The court also ruled against any differentiation among disabled persons. "A disabled is a disabled. The question of making any further reservation on the basis of caste, creed or religion ordinarily may not arise," it said. This would rule out any splintering of special quotas for disabled and any other such ‘sub-category’ along caste lines in keeping with OBC , SC and ST divisions.

The ruling was part of the verdict by which the apex court struck down a Madhya Pradesh government decision to terminate the employment of general-category disabled candidates under the 3% disabled quota as assistant teachers.

The state initially stood firm saying the reserved posts could be filled by disabled persons from any category, but caved in to litigational pressure from disabled SC students demanding precedence over disabled applicants from the general category. It changed its stand that the recruitment advertisement was not proper as it did not specify whether the recruitment was open to all or for only disabled SC/ST candidates.

The state’s turnaround came in for severe criticism from the court, which set aside the MP High Court verdict and ordered restoration of the teachers’ posts to disabled persons from the general category.

Under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, the states were obliged to make reservations for disabled persons, which Madhya Pradesh completely lost sight of, the bench said.

The court decision is a warning to the Union and state governments which routinely find it difficult to resist lobbying by reserved category associations. The previous NDA government at the Centre had to cave in to pressure from the parliamentary forums of SC and ST MPs to allow reservation in promotion for reserved-category recruits.

Copyright 2007. All Rights Reserved.


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