first_imgThe Congress government’s move to give 5% reservation to Gujjars and four other nomadic communities in jobs and education in Rajasthan, citing them as being an “extremely backward class”, has run into rough weather. A public interest litigation petition filed in the High Court here, challenges the quota Bill on grounds of an “untenable basis” of proportionality of population.Activists Arvind Sharma and Badal Verma contend in their writ petition that the Bill — passed in the Assembly’s Budget session during the Gujjar agitation — had not only breached the 50% ceiling on reservation but had also cited the proportion of Gujjars’ population as per the last Census instead of referring to the quantifiable data of backwardness in education and public employment.The Assembly had unanimously passed the Rajasthan Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointments and Posts in Services under the State) Amendment Bill, 2019, on February 13.The four other nomadic communities, which have been accorded the quota benefit along with the Gujjars, are Banjara, Gadia-Lohar, Raika and Gadariya.While a Cabinet sub-committee has assured Gujjars that the State will strongly defend the Bill in accordance with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s written assurance,The writ petition is likely to come up for preliminary hearing in the Rajasthan High Court’s Jaipur Bench next week.Petitioners’ counsel Abhinav Sharma said while the State government had contended that the reservation was aimed at addressing the pressing need to uplift certain communities, the “actual compelling circumstance” was the Gujjar agitation, which had held the entire State to ransom. Gujjars had blocked traffic on the Delhi-Mumbai railway tracks and on several highways for nine days to press for their demands.Tourism minister Vishvendra Singh, a member of the Cabinet sub-committee appointed to address the quota issue who met representatives of the Gujjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti, said after the meeting that the government would press its defence strongly in the High Court. “When the 10% reservation for the poor in general category can be enforced, how will the 5% quota not pass the hurdle,” he asked.Before the notification for enforcing the new quota Bill was issued, Gujjars were eligible for 1% reservation in the “most backward” category, in addition to the Other Backward Class (OBC) quota, within the 50% ceiling laid down by the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney judgment. Previous State governments had tried thrice to provide 5% reservation to the Gujjars and the four other nomadic communities, who were earlier grouped as a Special Backward Class.The legislation, however, had been struck down in every one of the past three attempts by the Rajasthan High Court, which had ruled that the quota not only exceeded the 50% limit, but was also not supported by quantifiable data to prove backwardness.last_img