Rural reservaton bill likely in this session
DH News Service

The State government is likely to introduce the Rural Reservation Bill - providing a 10 per cent horizontal reservation in government posts for rural candidates - during the on-going legislature session.

Highly placed secretariat sources told Deccan Herald that the Law Minister and the Chief Minister have agreed for the proposal to give 10 per cent horizontal reservation, and the bill is likely to be tabled in a day or two before both the Houses of the legislature. Horizontal reservation means there will be an overall 10 per cent reservation for rural candidates in each category of reservation based on castes and communities. Accordingly, a total 10 per cent of jobs reserved for SCs, STs, OBCs and general category will now go to rural candidates as per the government formula.

By this legislation, the Government hopes to resolve the controversy over the rural quota issue. The earlier 10 per cent weightage of marks to rural candidates was struck down by the Karnataka High Court as well as the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

Pending settlement of the rural quota issue, the entire process of recruitment to government jobs has been frozen for the last 10 months. Apart from various departmental recruitment, the selection process to the gazetted probationers (KAS) had also been stalled pending settlement of the issue.

While the selection process of the 1998 batch of candidates has been stalled half-way when the interviews were going on at the end of July this year, that of the 1999 batch has been stalled at the stage of announcing the results of the preliminary examination. Bowing to the rural lobby, the government then appointed the Justice Ramakrishna Commission of Inquiry on rural weightage.

The commission had recommended to the government to enact legislation for providing a separate 5 per cent reservation for rural candidates in government jobs. It had said a rural area should be decided as per the definition of a lvillagen adopted by Census authorities. A candidate should have studied from 1st standard to 10th standard in rural area, and should satisfy the creamy layer concept to claim the rural reservation, the commission had suggested.

If the government is to implement the report as it is, it would have run the risk of exceeding the 50 per cent ceiling on reservation set by the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhneyms (Mandal Commission) case. The problem however, is now being resolved by introducing the concept of horizontal reservation.

The government plans to deviate from the recommendations of the Commission with regard to the criteria to decide a rural area, by defining the rural candidates as those residing within the jurisdiction of a grama panchayat. The creamy layor concept to exclude economically well-off sections would not find a place in the proposed bill, as the rural reservation is given to offset the disadvantages that the rural candidates suffer because of lack of educational facilities, whether they are rich or poor.

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