By Kitdor H Blah
Following the High Court Judgment dated 05.04.2022, directing the State Government to implement a Roster System to ensure that the Reservation Policy is adhered to in letter and spirit of the Resolution dated 12th January, 1972, the MDA government vide O. M. dated 10th May, 2022 issued guidelines to implement a 100 point Roster in pursuance of the High Court Judgment. The Notification dated May 26, 2023 whereby the Governor of Meghalaya has constituted a committee of all political parties for discussing the implementation of the Reservation Roster System, and to submit a recommendation of the same to the state government within 15 days means that it has become a very pressing concern for the state.
In anticipation of this Committee, and its recommendation, I am writing this article to bring to the attention of all concerned that a comparison has to be made between the mechanisms of a 100 point Roster and a Post based Roster, to see which Roster will most faithfully and efficiently adhere to the Reservation Policy in the spirit and letter of the Resolution dated January 12, 1972. So, for the benefit of all concerned, let us take a glance at the mechanism of the 100 point Roster, and then at the mechanism of a Post based Roster, and then at the provisions of the Reservation Policy.
So how is the 100 point Roster drawn up? A point in the Roster for any category (Khasi, Garo, Other SCs/STs or UR) is determined by dividing 100 by the respective percentage of that category. So, for example, in order to determine the points in the Roster in respect of the Other STs & SCs category, we divide 100 by that category’s quota percentage, which is 5%, and so, dividing 100 by 5, we get 20. Therefore, every 20th point on the Roster is earmarked for the Other STs & SCs category, i.e. points 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100. Similarly, for UR category (15% quota), dividing 100 by 15, we get 6.67. Therefore, every 7th point in the Roster is earmarked for the UR category. Since point no. 1 is earmarked for UR, therefore every 7th point from the 1st is earmarked for UR category, i.e. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 36………..99. So, after adjusting for the 5 points of the Other SCs & STs category, and the 15 points of the UR category, we have 80 points left, which will be shared between the Khasi & Garo categories (40% each), which will be determined in the same way, by dividing 80 by 40, which is 2. So, every 2nd point in the 100 point Roster, after adjusting for the Other SCs/STs and UR categories, is earmarked for the Khasi and Garo categories, respectively.
Let us take a look at how a Post based Roster is drawn up. In a post based Roster, the number of points is equal to the number of posts in a cadre. Each post is assigned a point. The first post will be point no. 1, the second post will be point no. 2, and so on, according to the strength of the cadre. A point in the Roster for any category (Khasi, Garo, Other SCs/STs or UR) is determined by first multiplying each point with the respective quotas of all the categories, to get the fraction of the post for each category. So, for example, for point no. 1, we multiply 1 by each of the categories’ percentage of reservation, i.e. 1 x 40/100 for Khasi, 1 x 40/100 for Garo, 1 x 5/100 for Other SCs/STs, 1 x 15/100 for UR. The fraction of post/point no. 1 will be 0.4 for Khasi, 0.4 for Garo, 0.05 for Other STs/SCs and 0.15 for UR. In this way, for each post/point in the Roster, the fraction for each of the category against that point/post is obtained, by multiplying the number of that post/point by the respective percentage of each category. So, in this way, the Roster is drawn up.
Now, how are the points/posts then earmarked for each of the categories in this Post based Roster? At any point in the Roster, when any of the category’s fraction reaches the next whole number mark, say 1, or crosses that whole number, say 1.2, that point/post will be earmarked for that category. For example, in such a Roster, the fraction for the UR category will be 0.9 at point no. 6 (6 x 15/100), and it reaches 1.05 at point no. 7 (7 x 15/100). So, at point no. 7, the UR category, by getting a fraction of 1.05, has either reached a whole number or crossed it, from its previous fraction of 0.9 and so that post/point no. 7 will be earmarked for the UR category.
Now, what happens at points no. 1 and 2, where none of the categories have yet reached a whole number or crossed it? The highest fraction at post/point no. 1 is 0.4 (for Khasi & Garo categories) and at point no. 2 is 0.8 (also, for Khasi & Garo categories). The Resolution dated 12th January, 1972 clearly allows for a fraction upto 0.4 to be rounded off to 1, at clause 3(1), and so points no. 1 and 2 will be earmarked for Khasi or Garo category.
Now, what happens at those points where none of the categories reaches a next whole number or crosses it? In such cases, the point/post will be earmarked against the category with the highest fraction (either Khasi or Garo), such as at points no. 11 & 12. But if one of the other Reserved categories (Other STs/SCs) obtains a minimum fraction of 0.4, that fraction can be rounded off to 1, and that point earmarked for that category IF that category is as yet under-represented in that cadre, such as at point no. 8 in such a Roster.
What happens at point no. 20, where all the categories reach their next whole number? At point no. 20, it is the UR category that is yet under-represented (less than 15%), and so that point/post is earmarked against the UR category. But of course, at point no. 20, all categories reach the next whole number, including UR. Even if under-represented, the rounding off of 0.4 fraction will not apply to UR such as at point no. 3, but only to the protected categories, as per clause 3(1) of the Resolution.
Now, considering the above working mechanisms of both the 100 point Roster and the Post based Roster, which of the two will faithfully and efficiently implement the State Reservation Policy in the letter and spirit of the Resolution dated January 12, 1972? If we look at the 100 point Roster, the Other STs/SCs category will only be filled at every 20th point. Now, assuming we are at initial preparation, the Other STs/SCs will only be filled at point no. 20. But what if, in a particular cadre, there are only 8 or 15 vacancies in a period of one year or two years. In that case, the Other STs/SCs category will remain under-represented until such time as the 20th point is filled up. Thus, this 100 point Roster is deficient to fulfil the clause 3(1) of the Resolution dated January 12, 1972 which provides for filling up of a post in favour of an under-represented Reserved category, in cases where no eligible candidate from that category can be recruited in a particular year. Whereas, the Point based Roster is sufficient to meet the provision at clause 3(1), since it is drawn up based on the fraction of each post/point for each category.
Another deficiency in the 100 point Roster can be seen if we suppose that in a particular cadre, there are yet only 15 posts. If we look at the 100 point cycle, in such a cadre of 15 posts, there will be 3 URs, 6 Khasis and 6 Garos. In such a case, while the representation of the Khasi and Garo categories meet the 40% quota, the UR category is over represented at 20%. If we take a cadre with as yet 10 posts, UR are still over represented at 20%. If we take a cadre of 8 posts, UR are over represented at 25%. This defeats the principle of adequate representation which is outlined at Article 16(4) of the Constitution, as well as the Resolution. Whereas, in a Post based Roster, it allows for the 8th point/post to be earmarked to the Other STs/SCs category since it meets the minimum fraction of 0.4, which can be rounded off to 1.
Lastly, the Resolution provided that if there are no eligible candidates to fill the Reserved posts for a particular category, in a particular year, those posts will be available to other categories, and the deficiency in respect of that particular category will be carried over to the next recruitment year, provided that the deficiency will not be carried over for more than one year. The Post based Roster is sufficient to implement this provision without hassle as any excess/deficiency will be adjusted over the successive points, within a period of one year. But I am not sure how this will be implemented in a 100 points cycle.
Now, mention must be made of the case “R. K. Sabharwal vs. State of Punjab” as well as the case “J. C. Mallick vs Ministry of Railways”, where the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that reservation of jobs for the backward classes SC/ST/OBC should apply to posts and not to vacancies. What this means is that once a post has been filled by Reservation, then that post is to be earmarked for that particular category, even if that particular post becomes vacant due to retirement, resignation, promotion, etc. Such vacancy must be filled by the same category, since the Reservation that was earmarked for that post applies to that post, and not just to the vacancy of that post. The 100 point Roster is deficient to meet this principle held by the Court, since vacancies are filled according to the points earmarked in the Roster cycle, and the reservation of the posts that become vacant due to retirement, resignation promotion, etc. is not accounted for. However, a Post based Roster is not subject to such a 100 points cycle, and is only as long as the strength of the cadre. At any point, when a post becomes vacant due to retirement, resignation promotion, etc., that post will be filled up by the respective category that was earmarked against that particular point/post in the Post based Roster.
All in all, in view of all the above considerations, it seems that the Post based Roster is the system that will most faithfully and efficiently implement the State Reservation Policy, in the letter and spirit of the Resolution dated January 12, 1972.