GANGTOK, 05 June: The Cabinet, during its first sitting recently, declared mission-level pursuit of BPL-free status for Sikkim, and the State Government has, in a new order, announced job reservations for those living below the poverty line. In an order issued today, the State Government has announced 12% reservation in all state government jobs and posts in the public sector undertakings for candidates hailing from families living below the poverty line.
It is to be noted that this is 12% “horizontal reservation” and will be applicable only to those BPL persons who are of Sikkimese origin.
In keeping with the local protection agenda, the State government has now directed its largesse to the economically backward people in the state. This is the first such reservation for the BPL category which thus far has received only subsidies and grants
Meanwhile, the BPL segregation has not yet been undertaken and will have to be initiated for this latest policy decision to be implemented. As per the latest figures issued by the Planning Commission of India, the state of Sikkim has just about 8% people living below poverty line. This comes to about 55,000 BPL people in Sikkim. Admittedly it is a sharp decline from 13%, which was the earlier percentage of BPL categories in Sikkim as per the Planning Commission. The identification of the 8% BPL population in the state had been undertaken by the Directorate of Economics, Statistics, Monitoring and Evaluation following the release of the BPL figures for Sikkim by the Planning Commission.
However, this identification of BPL families was not done on any local /non local segregating criteria and was a survey of all, local and non local, who are classified as BPL.
The latest notification issued by the Department of Personnel today states that there will be “…12 % horizontal reservation for all the Sikkimese community living Below Poverty Line in posts and services to be filled up by direct recruitment under the State Government and Public Sector Undertakings with immediate effect.”
To explain the concept of horizontal reservations this is a special reservation in favour of the physically handicapped , women, economically backward etc. The social reservation in favour of SCs, STs and OBCs are called vertical reservations. Both are provided for under the Constitution. Horizontal reservations cut across vertical reservation in what can be called interlocking reservations as observed by the Supreme Court of India.
If 3 % vacancies are reserved for physically handicapped persons this is horizontal reservation and persons selected against this quota will be placed in their appropriate social category upon appointment. That is to say, if he belongs to SC category he will be placed in the SC quota making necessary adjustments. If he belongs to the open category then the person will be placed in that category with necessary adjustments. However even after providing for these horizontal reservations the percentage of reservations for SC, ST and OBC should remain the same.
As per the Supreme Court the proper and correct course is to first fill up the open category quota (50%) on the basis of merit and then to fill up each social reservation quota. The third step would be to find out how many candidates belonging to special reservations have been selected; if the quota fixed for horizontal reservations is already satisfied no further question arises. But if it is not so then the requisite number of special or horizontal reservation candidates shall have to be taken and adjusted or accommodated against their respective social reservation categories by deleting the same number of candidates already selected from that category.