With reference to the news item ‘Reservation policy review…….5 experts’ that appeared in The Shillong Times, (ST June 7, 2023) the statements of the Chief Minister- Conrad K. Sangma are quite confusing. His statement that ‘the roster is a continuous process and continuity starts with 1972’ is utterly misleading and confusing. There was no roster prior to May 2022 and hence ‘Clause 2’ of the State Reservation Policy (SRP) is applicable which allows the filling up of the vacancies by other class in absence of suitable candidates in a respective class and the deficiency in that class can be carried forward to one year only. This comes in direct conflict with the OM of May 10, 2022 ‘Clause B-point #6’ which allows backlog of any reserved categories to be carried forward to the next recruitment cycle indefinitely.
The statement of the Chief Minister can perhaps, also be seen as contempt of court. The Hon’ble High Court of Meghalaya never asked for a cut-off date or the like or how far back the roster would be made applicable. Indeed, the Hon’ble Court has clearly stated in its judgment dated 03.04.2023 while rejecting the PIL of Greneth M. Sangma vs. the State of Meghalaya & Ors. on ‘1972’ as the year of applicability of the roster without going into the merit of the case and left it to the legislature and the executive, particularly to the new Assembly for thorough discussion since it is a policy matter.
As per the existing SRP, there is no illegality in the filling up of vacancies by other class in absence of suitable candidates from a particular class till date. Can we ask the Chief Minister, was the ‘Clause 2 of the State Reservation Policy’ amended by the MDA-2 government surreptitiously or had there been any discussion on the same in the new Legislative Assembly? OM of 10th May 2022 ‘Clause B-point #6’ and ‘Clause 2 of the State Reservation Policy’ cannot co-exist since they contradict each other.
The CM’s statement on plotting the roster number from 1972 is equivalent to its retrospective implementation and ‘knowing where the State stands in the roster today’ is a futile exercise since it did not exist in 1972 till May 2022 and hence ‘Clause 2’ of the State Reservation Policy remains valid till date, without any scope of remedial compensation to any class, if any, with retrospective effect. Firstly, the Government/Legislative Assembly has to amend ‘Clause 2 of the State Reservation Policy’ in light of the OM of May 2022, (pending the Review of the State Reservation Policy as decided recently), and then prepare a fresh brand new roster of vacancies w.e.f. May 10, 2022 with serial no. 1 in a 100/200/500/etc. point roster, starting with a particular reserved category. The government is duty bound to follow the existing SRP in toto and bring necessary amendments in relevant clauses to be in sync with the current position.
The MDA-2 Government cannot have its cake and eat it too. If these conflicting clauses are not sorted out, any fresh advertisement and recruitment will have serious ramifications on job aspirants from different categories. Since the State cannot afford to halt the recruitment process for a long time, this issue should be dealt with on an urgent basis. The public would also like to know what were the amendments brought into the OM of May 2022 by the Cabinet in its meeting held on June 6, 2023.
Prof. Lakhon Kma
Meghalaya State Policy for Empowerment of PWDs
Intense and passionate debates regarding the State Reservation Policy for Employment have been hogging the media and other spaces for the past few weeks. The future of all sections of our society, in Meghalaya, is at stake! The introduction of another thread, in this whole web is pertinent. The “Job Reservation Policy” for one of the most neglected minorities in our society – “Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).” With the passage of the Rights for Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, persons with disabilities have striven and aspired for Government and other jobs, qualifying themselves through hard work, support of parents and families, schools and colleges, support of the Government and NGOs. They are now on the threshold of stepping into the world of work with graduate, postgraduate, technical and Doctoral qualifications. The Government has been identifying jobs in various categories, since the Supreme Court has also passed an order in this regard. However, the lack of awareness and understanding of the provisions of the law, is often a road block to the timely implementation of the law.
The Meghalaya State Policy on the matter states: “Government will undertake Identification of posts for respective categories of Benchmark Disabilities (BMD) by an Expert Committee with representation of Persons with Benchmark Disabilities, and review of such identified posts will be after every 3 years.
The new Act assures 4% reservation of total vacancies in cadre strength in each group of posts in Government: 1 % in (a) to (c) and 1% in (d) & (e) which are (a) blindness and low vision; (b) deaf and hard of hearing;(c) locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy; (d) autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability & mental illness; (e)multiple disabilities from amongst persons under clauses (a) to (d) including deaf-blindness.”
It is thus most urgent that in any discussions regarding job reservation, these provisions be considered seriously, so that persons with disabilities can access opportunities on an equal basis with others.
(Retired Executive Director, Bethany Society, Meghalaya)
Post-based Roster aligns with Supreme Court Judgment and DoPT O.M.
The Meghalaya High Court Order dated 05.04.2022 on the implementation of Roster says: “In view of such deplorable state of affairs, where the absence of any roster system leaves open possibilities of nepotism and arbitrariness and worse forms of subversion, the further recruitment processes for all posts in the State will remain stayed in the sense that no further appointments will be made until the roster system is put in place and the rosters are prepared in respect of all posts whereupon, after applying the reservation policy, future recruitment can be conducted by adhering to the ratio of reservation.”
Moreover, the Order also says: “Learned Advocate-General, who is present in Court, acknowledges that reservation cannot be implemented without a roster and also refers to the relevant Constitution Bench judgment reported at (1995) 2 SCC 745 (R.K. Sabharwal v. State of Punjab).”
But in the above referred case “R. K. Sabharwal vs. State of Punjab” the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court held that reservation of jobs should apply to posts and not to vacancies. In view of this Supreme Court judgment, the DoPT issued O. M. No. 36012/2/96-Estt. (Res) dated 02.07.1997 whereby it directed that vacancy-based points roster shall be replaced by post-based rosters. Moreover, the Order in the quoted para above, speaks of the implementation of a roster for “future recruitment.”
Therefore, it is pertinent that the Committee on Reservation Policy and Roster System look into the above-mentioned details, and the above case which the High Court order referred to, and see the Judgment of the Court therein, and the subsequent DoPT order following the Judgement, and does away with the 100 or 200 point roster. In its place should be put a post- based roster, in line with the judgment of the Court. The Committee must rectify the errors and get it right this time.
Kitdor H. Blah,