The Centre is planning to roll back a just-notified rule of the UGC that in one fell swoop shrunk the teaching posts available for reserved candidates in universities.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Human Resource Development had accepted the UGC proposal, based on an Allahabad HC order, to calculate reserved posts in teaching jobs by considering department as a unit instead of university.
The rethink came after an inter-ministerial committee spotlighted how the new formula shrunk quota posts, and the Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot sent a strongly worded letter to HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar asking for a rollback, reportedThe Indian Express.
The government is contemplating legal options to rollback new University Grants Commission (UGC) criteria for implementing reservation for faculty across universities. A special leave petition might also be filed for the same in the Supreme Court, reported the paper.
According to the previous UGC norms, SC, ST and OBC quota were calculated by treating the entire university as a unit. But the Allahabad High court, in a 2017 hearing on Banaras Hindu University teachers' recruitment, said each department, instead of the university, should be treated as a unit for calculating reservations. The bench had pulled up the commission for implementing reservation in a 'blanket manner'.
Following the court order, the HRD ministry gave assent to new formula by the UGC for depatment-wise categorisation. The Supreme Court had later upheld the High Court ruling.
The move, however, faced severe backlash, with experts calling the new step "retrogade" as far as implementation of quota is concerned.
Gehlot’s letter, a copy of which has also been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office, states that the "spirit of the Constitution should reflect in the representation of these categories in various educational institutions".
The letter said: “As per roster, every fourth position is reserved for the OBC, seventh for SC and 14th for ST. If the department is considered as a unit, the representation of these groups would be almost nothing.”
Reservation registers / roster registers are an aid to ensure that Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes get quota reserved for them.
The vacancies for an assistant professor job, and thus chance for reserved category candidates, would be far less if a department is treated as unit. The chances for reserved candidates would be higher if university is treated as a unit because there would naturally be more vacancies for the assistant professors when bunched up.
"It is because of this problem the government had come with a formula of bunching together similar posts with similar pay scales, qualifications, and so reservation became possible," the paper reported a government official as saying.