Congress vs BJP: Reservation war in Chhattisgarh

The court termed holding reservations above 50% in the ceiling in normal conditions as unconstitutional.

AVDHESH MALLICKUpdated: Thursday, September 22, 2022, 12:01 AM IST
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After the Chhattisgarh High Court struck down the Chhattisgarh Government’s decision of 58% quota in the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes in recruitment and admission in educational institutions on Monday, the war of words ensued between the ruling party Congress and major opposition Bharatiya Janata Party in the state. The court termed holding reservations above 50% in the ceiling in normal conditions as unconstitutional.

While speaking to the media at Helipad in Raipur on Wednesday, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel alleged that the high court set aside the decision of increased reservation as an outcome of the ill preparation of Raman Singh's government. They failed to present the case in the Court with adequate supportive documents, but will challenge the order in the Apex Court, the CM said.

Congress State President Mohan Markam alleged that the anti-tribal face of the BJP has been exposed. The High Court pronounced the increase in reservation quota unconstitutional because the previous ruling Raman Singh government increased the reservation quota up to 58% without providing supporting documents in the court and remained unable to explain which special conditions compelled the government to increase the ceiling.

Just after the announcement of an increase in the reservation quota up to 58% in 2011, it was challenged by other stakeholders in the court in 2012. Even the BJP government failed to submit the Nankiram Ministerial Committee recommendation report. "Our government tried its best to put the case strongly in the court but the court refused to entertain the Ministerial Committee's 1000 pages report, stating that such materials were not on record," Markam said.

Notably, disposing of a bunch of writ petitions, the first of which was filed 10 years ago, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice A.K. Goswami and Justice P.P. Sahu cancelled the reservation implemented by the State in 2012.

“On the basis of the materials on record, we are of the opinion that no special case is made out for breaching the reservation ceiling of 50% while increasing the reservation to 58%,” said the court order.

‘No exceptional situation’. “Failure to secure a job or a seat in an educational institution by a reserve category candidate competing with candidates belonging to a general category cannot be construed as an exceptional circumstance,” the court order said.

However, on the direct allegations from the Congress, Singh hit back boldly and said it was the Congress that had failed to present the State’s case properly in court.

BJP influential tribal leaders Ram Vichar Netam, Mahesh Gagda, Kedar Kashyap and ex-chairman ST Commission Nand Kumar Sai addressed a joint press conference on the issue in Raipur and said, it is the BJP government which increased the quota of tribals from 20% to 32%.

"The anti-tribal Congress government intentionally did not present the case strongly in the High Court and we lost the case," Sai alleged.

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