Quota on quota: Political debate erupts in Karnataka post SC verdict

SC says states can make sub-classifications within the prescribed reservation quota of Schedule Tribes and Schedule Castes.

The Justice A.J. Sadashiva Inquiry Commission report is back in news yet again following the recent Supreme Court verdict which upheld that States can make sub-classifications within the prescribed reservation quota of Schedule Tribes and Schedule Caste. Photo: PTI

The Justice A.J. Sadashiva Inquiry Commission report on equitable distribution of reservation facilities among Scheduled Castes (SCs) in Karnataka remained in cold storage for eight years. The state neither accepted the recommendations nor rejected them. Political silence prevailed over the years on the report.

Now, the report is back in news yet again following the recent Supreme Court verdict which upheld that States can make sub-classifications within the prescribed reservation quota of Schedule Tribes and Schedule Caste.

The Yediyurappa government, which is already under pressure from SC/ST groups to enhance the existing reservation quota (from 15 to 17 per cent to SCs and from 3 to 7 per cent for STs), as per the Justice HN Nagamohan Das Commission, will face yet another crisis if it ignores the current ruling.

A section of Congress leaders, including seven-time MP K.H. Muniyappa, urged Yediyurappa to take up the issue in the Assembly and send it to the Central government for approval to ensure internal reservation.

The Sadashiva Commission recommended internal reservation among the castes by broadly reclassifying all the 101 castes into four groups.

The report stated that a few in the name of all Dalits misappropriated the benefits of reservations and that it violated the Constitutional goal of achieving social and economic justice. Also, it had said the earlier Supreme Court judgment on this issue suppressed the growing aspirations of the most-excluded castes among Dalits across the country.

People belonging to the Madiga community in the state remained largely affected. When the community members raised their concern with Current Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol who belongs to the Madiga caste, and said the government failed them, the latter appealed to his people not to get into an agitation mode.

The Sadashiva Committee recommended 6% of reservation to Madiga and its sub-castes.

The Sadashiva Commission, formed in 2005, submitted its report in 2012 to the then BJP government headed by former Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda. While the report was never put up for discussion during the BJP’s tenure, even the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government failed to take it up.

If the report gets implemented, Bovi, Lambani, Korcha and others communities would be deprived of the reservation benefits.

Several caste-related movements took place during the Congress tenure demanding the implementation of the report. Just before the Assembly elections in 2018, people from 98 castes out of 101 castes among SCs took to streets against the implementation of Commission recommendations.

The Congress remained apprehensive about implementing the report as some of the party leaders felt that the BJP was trying to divide the Dalits so as to score political points by targeting the party’s vote bank.

The Commission surveyed 20.54 lakh Scheduled Caste families (96.60 lakh people in all) and 1.58 lakh employees belonging to SCs, before submitting its reports.

Angered by the silence on the report, Sadashiva last year quipped that the government should either accept it or reject it. “If they don’t want to consider it, let it be set on fire,” he had said.

In a series of tweet on Sunday, former Chief Minister and JDS leader H.D. Kumaraswamy took a dig at the ruling government and asked to make its stance clear on the issue of providing internal reservation among SC, ST and OBC communities.

He said the government offered ‘lip sympathy’ on the issue without acting on it. “When the government can bring in 10 per cent reservation for upper castes, what stops them from bringing internal reservation for SC, ST and OBCs?,” the former CM asked.

“The state should take all backward communities into confidence and implement internal reservation.”

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