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Controversy surrounds faculty reservation bill

February 13, 2009 19:28 IST

The Government's move to ensure passage in Parliament of a key bill which seeks to keep faculty appointments in 47 institutes of excellence from the purview of reservation, has kicked up a controversy with a national commission terming it "a dangerous bill."

The bill has declared some higher education institutes as centres of excellence and exempted them from making reservations in faculty positions.

The bill named Reservation for SC/ST (Posts and Services) Bill 2008 was passed by the Rajya Sabha in December last and is slated to be introduced in the Lok Sabha in this session.

The Buta Singh-led National Commission for Scheduled Castes objected both to the content of the bill as well as the fact that the commission was not consulted before the bill was introduced in Parliament, which he said the government is bound to do constitutionally.

Singh, accompanied by other commission members Mahendra Baudh, Mrityunjay Nayak and Satya [Images] Bahin, on Friday met President Pratibha Patil [Images] and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee [Images] to lodge the cCommission's protest to the United Progressive Alliance government's move.

The commission also requested the Speaker not to allow introduction of the bill in the Lok Sabha and also asked him to tell the ruling party that the bill will not be introduced unless it comes with the suggestions of NCSC.

"We met President Pratibha Patil and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Friday and expressed our disagreement with the bill provisions. We also requested the Speaker to ask the ruling party not to introduce the bill in Lok Sabha without consulting us," Buta Singh told media persons outside Parliament in New Delhi [Images].

"The bill named Reservation for SC/ST (Posts and Vacancies) was earlier brought before the Parliament in 2004 as well. But it was then referred to the Joint Standing Committee on the SC and ST, which opposed almost all provisions of the bill and had given suggestions to completely amend it," Singh said.

"Those suggestions were neither read nor implemented and the bill was passed through the Rajya Sabha," Singh added.

"When this bill came to the Lok Sabha, the commission held an emergency meeting to discuss the issue. We have finalised our suggestions. We have come to the conclusion that the provisions of the bill shut the door for SC/ST," Singh said.

Dubbing it a "dangerous bill", he said that all the provisions of the bill negate the existing provisions under the Constitution for education and other benefits to present and future generations of SC/ST population, he said.

"Sub Clause 9 of the Article 338 of the Constitution says that whenever the government will bring any major changes in reservation for SCs and STs, the proposal would be sent to the commission for its views and any such proposal would be placed before the Parliament only after the opinion the commission," Singh said.

Otherwise such a proposal would become unconstitutional, Singh said, adding the Speaker gave them a patient hearing.

"The bill has the provision to permanently end reservation in 47 institutes of national importance," Singh said.

The commission has also demanded complete deletion of clauses number 3, 4 and 9 (1) from the proposed bill along with modification in certain other clauses.

"It is distressing to observe the prospective adverse impact of the legislation on the SC/ST communities in future," the commission said.

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