The government has put on hold recruitment for teaching positions in universities and colleges pending a decision on the special leave petition it has filed against a court order curtailing reservation for SC/ST and OBCs, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Thursday.
He said the government is committed to 50 per cent reservation to SC/ST and OBCs and it "does not agree" with the Allahabad High Court ruling that had in last April struck down a circular prescribing institution-wise reservation to fill vacant faculty positions.
"We are hopeful we will be able to save reservation for SC, ST and OBCs," he said replying to zero hour mention by opposition members in the Rajya Sabha.
"Reservation is a Constitutional right... we stand by reservation and are committed to provide it to SC/ST and OBCs," he said adding the Union Government and University Grants Commission (UGC) have filed separate SLPs against the order and the next date of hearing is on August 13.
He said the Allahabad High Court order was later upheld by the Supreme Court, forcing UGC to issue the March 5 circular laying down a new mechanism for implementing faculty reservations, which is calculating total posts department or subject-wise rather than institution-wise.
This meant calculating reservation in teaching posts by department, instead of basing the quota as on the number of posts available at university.
Previously, SC, ST and OBC faculty positions were calculated by treating the entire university as a unit. It grouped all posts of a grade, such as assistant profession, in all departments of a university to calculate quota. Under the new formula, where every department will be considered one separate unit, there will be a lower chance of positions being set aside for quota as there may be fewer openings.
Javadekar said his ministry had yesterday ordered a stop on filling of vacancies at universities/colleges pending decision on SLP.
"No harm will be done to reservations (to SC, ST and OBCs)," he said.
Earlier, raising the issue through a zero hour mention, Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) said the UGC had on March 5 issued a new 13-point reservation roster for SC/ST and OBC category that provided for preparing reservation list keeping department/subject as a unit instead of the university/college.
He said as per the Constitution, 15 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 27 per cent reservation is provided for SC/ST and OBC respectively.
Till now, the UGC had specifically prohibited the practice of making department-wise cadres as that would lead to denial of reservation in small departments.
He demanded that the UGC order be declared "null and void", a demand that was supported by Leader of the Opposition and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad who said the roster would curtail reservation to SC, ST and OBC.
Azad said while the Constitution provided for reservation to SC and ST, the Congress-government had in 1993 provided the same to other backward classes (OBCs).
The practice of creating department-wise category is strictly forbidden, he said.
Ashok Siddharth (BSP) said after the UGC order, vacancies have been advertised and such recruitment must be stopped.