Why separate rules for OBC and SC/ST quota in civic polls?

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 22 September 2015 17:35 IST

With Goa municipal election hardly one month away, a new controversy has arisen on the issue of applying two different criteria for reserving seats for the OBC and SC/ST.

Elections for 11 municipalities are scheduled on 25 October.

Fatorda MLA Vijay Sardesai has blamed the BJP government for reducing the seats of Scheduled Tribe by changing the criteria.

Instead of the old system of applying 12 per cent to the total seats, this election would count percentage of the SC or ST population in the municipal area and decide the seats accordingly.

The government justifies this action on legal ground while Sardesai calls it strangulation of the ST community in the BJP regime.

“Margao municipality had two seats for ST when we had 20 seats. With the seats increasing to 25, it would have been now 3 seats for ST. But the new criteria has reduced the seat to mere one”, said Sardesai.

Is this the reconsideration of reservation policy RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat is talking about, he asked, referring to the nationwide row due to Bhagwat’s statement.  

He also alleged that the same criterion however is not made applicable to decide reserved seats of the Other Backward Classes.

SC/ST quota changed from seats to population

Elvis Gomes, the director of municipal administration, confirmed it.

According to him, the SC/ST reservations have been streamlined as per the constitutional provisions under Article 243 T, for the municipal elections scheduled next month.

The Article 243 T (1) states:

“Seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in every Municipality and the number of seats so reserved shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in that Municipality as the population of the Scheduled Castes in the Municipal area or of the Scheduled Tribes in the Municipal area bears to the total population of that area and such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Municipality.”

What it means in simple is that the percentage of reservations for SC or ST would be decided as per the population of the scheduled classes or tribes in the municipal area and not 12 per cent of the total seats.

“Due to the old provision, Pernem municipality had no reservation for SC last time and had to import ST candidate from outside since the whole municipal area did not have a single ST person”, said Gomes.

He also said that besides Pernem, even other municipal areas will now have representation for SC as well as ST, based on the number of population of these communities.

Why OBC quota based on seats?

But why then same criteria is not applied to the OBC? Why OBC seats are decided as 27 per cent of total number of seats in each municipal area?

“I can’t do anything about it since this is decided by issuing an ordinance a fortnight ago”, said Gomes.

The cabinet, on 7 September, had approved the amendment to this effect, by circulating the agenda among the ministers soon after the lengthy monsoon Assembly session was over.

Accordingly the ordinance was issued, amending the Goa Municipalities Act, increasing the OBC quota from 19.5 per cent to 27 per cent.

Since no census figures for the OBC population as well as population figures for each municipality are available, the government has considered 27 per cent OBC population of the whole state (including villages) and has applied it to the municipal towns.

As per this amendment, the OBC quota however would be decided based on the number of seats in each municipality and not the population of OBC in each municipality.

Sardesai has precisely objected to this ‘double standard’ system of reservations – for the OBC and SC/ST. 

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