Scrap the unconstitutional provisions of Direct Payment Act, 1972 Ensure Social Justice and Equal Opportunities in Aided College Appointments
We welcome the move by the present LDF government to implement reservations in aided college teaching/ non-teaching appointments. It is laudable that the democratic government is putting to an end the constitutional breach and anti-reservation stance of the past 46 years. However, the benchmark adopted by the Government to implement reservation is highly condemnable and inadequate to ensure social justice. The government aims to implement affirmative action by upholding the agreement between the state and the aided college management signed during Achuta Menon government in 1972.
As per the 1972 Direct Payment Act, 50% of the appointments are reserved for the caste/community represented by the management. The present government has decided to continue with this forty six year old unconstitutional provision. It only proposes an 8% and 2% reservation for SCs and STs respectively in the remaining 50% open merit appointments. Without scraping the unconstitutional provision of 1972, the 10% reservation for SCs and STs would effectively be reduced to 5% (4% SC and 1% ST). This would mean rejecting the principle of reservations proportional to the population of SCs and STs.
On 25th May 2015, Kerala High Court pronounced that aided college appointments should follow reservation policies (W.P.L Nos.32393, 33205 dated 25.05.2015). This was a very important pronouncement. In 2010, the then LDF government had approved the appointment of 1599 aided college teachers without including the UGC provisions for reservations. Thus, under the leadership of DSM/ Aided Mekhala Samvarna Prakshobha Samithi (Action Committee for Reservations in Aided Sector) , 12 SC/ST candidates filed petitions with the High Court . The 2015 order is a result of this legal battle.
According to the order, state universities were supposed to bring appropriate amendments in their statutes and within a period of six months make SC/ST appointments as per UGC regulations. The order also added that no other appointments could be made without clearing SC/ST appointment backlogs.
However, N.S.S. (Nair Service Society) obtained a stay against the aforementioned order, stating that the state does not have a Special Act for the implementation of affirmative action. We have been trying to cancel this stay order and get an appropriate order from the court. It is at this juncture that the present LDF government decides to implement reservations in a half-baked fashion.
2015 order mandates all state universities and affiliated aided colleges to ensure 10% SC and ST reservations in all the appointments. However, with the present government upholding the 1972 Direct Payment Act, this mandate would be severely diluted. SC/ST reservations would be reduced to a mere 5%
It goes without saying that even 10% reservation for SCs and STs would be insufficient to ensure social justice in this sector. Nonetheless, what we see today is the government’s decision to effectively reduce it by half!!
Kerala has a total of 180 aided Arts and Science Colleges. 84 out of these 180 colleges are controlled by Christian or Corporate managements. They account for nearly 47% of the total 180. 35 colleges (19.4%) are with Muslims, 21 (11.6%) with S.N. Trust, 18 (10%) are managed by N.S.S., 7 (3.8%) are run by the Devaswam Board and 15 (8.3%) are run by single-member managements
Managements Number of Colleges (Share in percentage)
Christian Management 84 (47%)
Muslim Management 35 (19.4%)
S.N. Trust 21 (11.6%)
Nair Service Society 18 (10%)
Devaswam Board (Government Aided Colleges) 07 (3.8%)
Single-Member Managements 15 (8.3%)
Total number of Aided Arts and Science Colleges 180
Managements, the number/percentage of aided colleges under them
64% posts in the Devaswam Board Colleges are occupied by Nairs alone. 66% of all aided colleges are controlled by religious minorities. As per the government decision, no reservations are possible in these colleges. The government plans to implement reservations only in the remaining 34% colleges in the limited 50% open merit appointments.
The 2015 High Court Order had excluded religious minority institutions from implementation of reservations. However, Muslim Education Society (hereafter MES) director Dr. Fasal Gafur ensured that MES institutions will implement reservations. He also added that he would try to convince other Muslim management colleges to implement reservations. He added that since aided colleges receive government grants they cannot claim exclusive minority status. He pointed out that the government should negotiate with minority aided colleges on the issue of affirmative action.
As per 2015-16 data, Kerala has 5, 11,487 government employees. Nearly 2, 00,000 of them are employed in government aided institutions. Government is not trying to expansively implement reservations in the aided sector, which accounts for 39% of all government salaried employees. On the other hand, the government plans to partially implement affirmative action only in aided colleges which houses just 11,985 employees (out of the 2 lakh strong aided sector).
The government should be ready to scrap the unconstitutional provisions of Direct Payment Act, 1972 and effectively implement 10% SC and ST reservations in employment across the board.
The government should implement reservation in all aided institutions and not just colleges. With just 10% reservation, social justice cannot be achieved. Out of the total 10,000 crores which government spends on aided institutions per year, 1000 crores should be allocated for SCs and STs, thereby ensuring their participation in fiscal resources.
There is a need to financially account the losses incurred by SCs and STs due to the non-implementation of reservations in the past 46 years. There is also an urgent need to tabulate the number of appointments lost by SCs and STs due to the appointment of protected teachers in government institutions.
We appeal to the government of Kerala that it should resolve the social and economic backwardness experienced by SCs and STs in aided institutions with the help of constitutional mandates. This would be a significant contribution in establishing social justice and equal opportunities.
~ Raveendran O.P., Convenor, Aided Mekhala Samvarna Prakshobha Samithi (Action Committee for Reservation in Aided Sector)
Translation by Nidhin Shobhana. The original press release in Malayalam is here.