The Telangana government late on September 30 issued executive orders hiking reservations for Scheduled Tribes (STs) in educational institutions and government jobs to 10 percent, effective from October 1. The previous reservation quota was 6 percent.
The move comes six years after the Telangana Rashtra Samithi-led (TRS) government passed a resolution in the Legislative Assembly to hike the reservations to STs and sent it to the Centre for approval.
A hike in reservations to STs was a poll promise by the TRS in line with the overall population of tribal communities in the state now hovering at around 10 percent.
Following late-night orders of the TRS government headed by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, overall reservations in Telangana now reach 54 percent. Notably, the Indian Constitution stipulates a 50 percent cap on quotas. Further, including the 10 percent quota earmarked for the economically backward classes (EBCs), the total reservation reaches 64 percent.
As it stands, the breakup is as follows: Schedule Castes have a reservation of 15 percent in Telangana, STs is 10 percent, ECBs is 10 percent and backward classes (BCs) is 29 percent.
The TRS government had in April 2017 approved a resolution in the state assembly hiking the reservations to STs from 6 percent to 10 percent and also proposing 12 percent reservations to Muslims, but the Centre did not approve it.
Referring to the ceiling of 50 percent for reservations, the Telangana government claimed that the judgement of the Supreme Court (SC) in Indra Sawhney vs. Union of India provided relaxation in the strict rule of the 50 percent ceiling under certain special circumstances.
Telangana, which relied on the recommendations of the S Chellappa Commission for Scheduled Tribes for hiking reservations, said, “The findings of the Commission mentioned above, based on sound and relevant reasoning, clearly establish such special circumstances and emphasize the need for enhancement of reservations for Scheduled Tribes.”
In this context, the Telangana government in its executive orders also cited the example of Tamil Nadu which provides reservations to the extent of 69 percent to the backward classes, SCs and STs through an Act of 1993. “The Government of India has included it in the IX Schedule of the Constitution of India, and allowed the Tamil Nadu Government to implement 69 percent reservations for the past 28 years,” said the Telangana government’s Friday night executive order.The Telangana government said it had passed a bill in the Legislative Assembly on April 16, 2017 to enhance the reservations for STs and sent the bill to the Government of India, seeking the assent of the President, and made multiple representations over the last several years.