Karnataka govt to issue ordinance to safeguard promotions given to SCs/STs
Bengaluru: The Karnataka government Monday said it has decided to issue an ordinance to safeguard promotions given to scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST) employees in government jobs since 1978.
In effect, the ordinance will look to circumvent a 9 February Supreme Court order which struck down reservations on promotions to SCs/STs by the Karnataka government and had also set a deadline of three months to reverse the promotions.
“The ordinance will re-validate the 1978 Act and is to safeguard earlier promotions,” T.B. Jayachandra, law minister of Karnataka said on Monday.
According to the state government’s 1978 policy of reservation in promotions, 15% is set aside for SC employees and 3% for STs. The ordinance is likely to be sent to the governor for assent before the 9 August revision hearing before the apex court.
The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in the state has chosen the ordinance route to ensure that the government portrays that it has acted to go around the SC order and give out positive feelers to the SC/ST community ahead of next years elections, analysts say.
Though all parties in the state have been reaching out to backward classes, Siddaramaiah has taken a keen interest in consolidating that support base. Also, the risk of losing the support of these sections is significant, especially since he stormed into power in 2013 with their support.
Ratna Prabha, additional chief secretary was asked to file a report by August to determine the backwardness of SCs/STs in the state.
Jayachandra reasoned that the report was subsequently sent to the Karnataka Law Commission to ensure all promotions were in line with backwardness and inadequacy of the SCs/STs. He added that in order to safeguard those who are likely to be impacted by the SC judgement, the government will create supernumerary posts (exceeding the usual numbers) in those departments even if there are overstaffed. Jayachandra estimates that around 100 super numeric posts will be created.
However, it’s unclear if the ordinance will stand apex court scrutiny.
“They have set themselves on a collision course with the SC,” Harish Ramaswamy, Dharwad-based political analyst and professor at the Karnatak University said. The SC had come down hard on the state in July 1991 when the state issued an ordinance to nullify the interim orders of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal. In September last year, the Karnataka assembly passed an unanimous resolution not to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu as directed by the court—again earning the wrath of the court.
The law minister said that the super numeric posts will be in Karnataka electricity board, irrigation department and public works department.