Karnataka brings in Bill to hike SC, ST quota: Reasons, provisions – The Indian Express

The Karnataka government Tuesday tabled a Bill in the Legislative Assembly to increase reservations for Scheduled Castes (from 15 per cent to 17 per cent) and Scheduled Tribes (from 3 per cent to 7 per cent) in the state.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai 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, which seeks to replace the ordinance of the same name.
Opposition Congress raised concerns about the legality of the Bill’s provisions, as it breaches the 50 per cent cap on quotas, and sought a discussion on it.
The government’s decision to table the Bill comes with Assembly polls due in 2023. The ruling BJP is eyeing the SC/ST vote bank, which traditionally supports the Congress. While the SCs make up 16 per cent of the state’s population, the STs constitute 6.9 per cent.
Congress legislature party leader Siddaramaiah pointed out that there would be legal hurdles for the legislation, as it has to be included in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution. He said the Bill will have no value if it was passed without the Constitutional amendment.
Reasons govt has given for the Bill
The current reservation of 15 per cent and 3 per cent was decided when the erstwhile Mysore state, from which the state of Karnataka was formed, 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.
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.
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.
Justice Nagmohandas committee report
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.
The committee submitted its report in July 2020, saying 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, the report said, 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, the report said.
Based on the study, a special case was made out for increasing the reservations for SCs upto 17 per cent and STs up to 7 per cent.
What did the Justice Subhash Adi report say?
In March 2021, the BJP government under BS Yediyurappa set up another committee headed by retired high court judge Justice Subhash B Adi to study the issue. This committee gave its report on July 6 this year.
The report cited a study by National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, which states that 74 per cent of tribal communities have remained invisible and their literacy rates are lower than 3 per cent.
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.
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