Monday, July 15, 2024

Adelbert roots for prospective roster system implementation


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By Our Reporter

SHILLONG, June 15: VPP’s North Shillong MLA Adelbert Nongrum has suggested that the founding principle of the state reservation policy should be strictly followed in letter and spirit by the roster system and as such, the roster system should be implemented prospectively for all intents and purposes.
In a letter to the Secretary of the Expert Committee on state reservation policy, Nongrum said the policy consists of a “Resolution No. PER 222/71/138” dated January 12, 1972, issued by the Personnel Department of Government of Meghalaya along with a series of Office Memorandums (OMs) issued subsequently over the years.
He stated that Meghalaya was not yet a full-fledged state when the principal resolution was made. The framers of the resolution surely must have relied on some official statistical data on population to arrive at the ratio of 40 per cent for Garo community and 40 for Khasi-Jaintia community.
Listing down the Census of India, 1971, he said the demographics relating to Meghalaya showed a total state population of 10,11,699, of which Schedule Tribe population was 82.8 per cent. The Garo population was 3,24,197 and the Khasi-Jaintia (which included Khasi, Synteng or Pnar, War, Bhoi and Lyngngam) population was 4,56,674.
“Based on these figures and considering only the three major tribal communities of the state, Garos constituted 41.5 per cent and Khasi-Jaintia 58.5 per cent…Clearly, the Government Resolution of 40:40 appears to have favoured one community over the combined other two, when the ratio should have been 33.2 per cent and 46.8 per cent respectively,” he stated.
According to him, an anomaly occurred during the framing of the principal resolution, and it should have been rectified as soon as it was detected. Pointing out that according to the Census of 2001, the state’s total population was 23,18,822, of which Schedule Tribe population was 85.9 per cent. Garos were 6,89,639 and Khasi-Jaintia 11,23,490, he said Synteng was listed both as a sub-tribe under Khasi-Jaintia as well as a separate tribe, and enumerated at 18,342.
“Again, going by the same computation done earlier, Garos constituted 37.7 per cent and Khasi-Jaintia, with the inclusion of Synteng, constituted 62.3 per cent …We see that the population of Khasi-Jaintia shot up significantly, and if the reservation policy was to have been updated as per revised Census, it would have been in the ratio – Garo 30 per cent and Khasi-Jaintia 50 per cent,” he added.
He stated, “So, obviously with this growing anomaly, there would be widespread grumbling and a vocal demand to change the state reservation policy. It is my considered view that a whole section of people is genuinely affected by the policy lapse, and their grievance is amply supported by quantifiable data, which is the true and proper basis for reservation”.
He said the quantifiable data readily available is population demographics which at any time can be sourced from the latest Census figures.
On the matter of academic reservation, he said, “It is my considered view that reservation of seats in state quota to higher academic courses does not come at all under the ambit of the reservation orders of the principal resolution and subsequent OMs issued by the Personnel Department.”
He said what has been in practice by the Health Department, the Veterinary Department, and the Directorate of Higher and Technical Education for nomination of candidates to seats against state quota by allotment of categories in accordance with state reservation policy is a blind interpretation and a misconstruction of law.
He added that an administrative instruction of the Personnel Department is limited in effect only to persons employed in or seeking employment to state government service, and it absolutely cannot apply mutatis mutandis to students pursuing higher education. Students are not government employees, and the administrative instruction is ultra vires, he said.
“With regard to the roster system, I am made aware that all government establishment offices across the state are currently preparing roster registers in the following manner, i.e. either from the time of the implementation of the reservation policy or from the time that the office was first created or from the earliest record available of employees in that office. This practice of implementation of roster register shows that the roster system is being implemented retrospectively,” Nongrum said.
According to him, the OM issued dated 10th May 2022, which lays down the guidelines for the implementation of the roster system, is not exactly in tune with the reservation policy as laid out in the principal resolution of January 12, 1972.
“Guideline ‘A’ of the OM of 10th May, 2022 states after the heading ‘Quantum of Reservation’, as follows – ‘The Reservation of Posts in favour of the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes will be as per Resolution No. PER 222/71/138 dated 12th January 1972’,” he added.
Referring to the January 12, 1972 resolution, he said the operational part states there shall be a reservation of 40 per cent of the vacancies in favour of Khasis and Jaintias.
“There shall be a reservation of 40% of the vacancies in favour of Garos. On a quick reading of the two orders, it may not be easy to notice, but if we are aware and careful enough, we find that the OM of 2022 talks about Reservation of ‘Posts’, whereas the Resolution of 1972 does not lay down a Resolution on Reservation of ‘Posts’ but rather a Reservation of ‘Vacancies’,” Nongrum said.
He added, “I’m sure we are all familiar with the difference in the meaning between ‘posts’ and ‘vacancies’, and I hope it explains what I said about the OM of 2022 being ‘not exactly in tune’ with the Resolution of 1972…So, the Reservation Policy that we have been having all along since 1972 is a Reservation of Vacancies, and it is only with the OM of 2022 that the Policy has suddenly changed to a Reservation of Posts.”
“It is my submission that the founding principle of the Reservation Policy should strictly be followed in letter and spirit by the Roster System, in that there should not be a slip somewhere. The Roster system therefore has to be implemented prospectively, for all intents and purposes,” he stressed.


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