New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government is likely to take up an ordinance this week in a last-ditch attempt to undo a controversial formula that overhauls how quotas are calculated for faculty recruitment at universities, senior officers in the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) told ThePrint.
The Union Cabinet is likely to discuss the ordinance Wednesday, the officers added, at what is expected to be its last meeting before the model code of conduct kicks in for the Lok Sabha elections.
According to new calculations upheld by the Supreme Court in January, the quota for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (SC/STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) will now be determined on the basis of department strength. Earlier, they were calculated on the basis of an entire institution’s staff strength.
Flowing from an April 2017 Allahabad High Court order, now reiterated twice by the Supreme Court (in October 2017 and January 2019), the new formula seeks to ensure a more balanced distribution of quota beneficiaries across different university departments.
However, it has been criticised as inimical to the interests of beneficiaries, with critics alleging that it would vastly shrink the number of posts they could apply for.
‘Grave miscarriage of justice’
The Narendra Modi government is believed to see an ordinance as its last resort since a review petition filed by the HRD Ministry against the Supreme Court’s January order was rejected last week.
In the petition, the HRD Ministry had described department-wise hiring as a “grave miscarriage of justice”.
It said the new system would cause the representation of SCs in universities to fall by 58-97 per cent, the STs by 78-100 per cent, and the OBCs by 25-100 per cent in recruitment to all posts — i.e. associate professor, assistant professor and professor. This analysis was based on a study carried out at 20 universities.
The ordinance would seek to restore hiring through the earlier formula, where the staff strength of an entire institution was used as the basis to calculate reservations.
It is believed to be more suitable to the government’s mandate to ensure 27 per cent of reservations for OBCs, 15 per cent for SCs, and 7.5 per cent for STs.
This roster system, introduced by the central government in 2006, required at least 14 posts at each level to be able to fulfil the mandate.
Under this system, if a pool of 15 teachers is considered a unit, for example, every fourth position goes to a person from the OBC category, every seventh position to a person from the SC category, and every 14th position to a person from the ST category.
But if the department is considered a unit, it becomes difficult to satisfy the mandate as any department is unlikely to have more than 10 faculty members at a particular level.