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Reservation to Paharis: Governor questions constitutional validity
3/21/2018 11:00:48 PM
Early Times Report

SRINAGAR, Mar 21: Governor NN Vohra has done exceedingly well to question the rationale behind granting 3% reservation to "Paharis" on linguistic basis and raised very valid points while returning the concerned bill back to the J&K Government for reconsideration.
Questioning the vary rationale behind the bill, Governor Vohra has not just reportedly invoked provisions of the Indian Constitution concerning reservation, but also referred to the reports of various Commissions appointed from time to time by different state governments. These Commissions included Gajendragadkar Commission (1968), the Sikri Commission (1979), the Wazir Commission (1983), the Anand Commission (1976) and the Mandal Commission (1969). Not one of these Commissions had identified "Paharis" as "Weaker Section" or a distinct ethnic group. Hence, the decision of the state government to grant 3% reservation to the "Paharis" appears to be as irrational and politically motivated as it appears to be flawed.
"Te Backward Classes Commission has blindly recommended reservation to the Paharis without going into the Constitutional provision for caste based or area based reservations only. Neither any criteria was adopted for identification of such areas and backwardness nor any survey was conducted by any Government Department to suggest inadequacy of representation of such people in Government offices etc," the candid communication from Governor's Secretariat to the J&K Government said.
Governor NN Vohra only hit the nail on the head when he reportedly told the state government through his communication that reservation cannot be granted to any section of society on linguistic basis and linguistic group could be decaled as "reserved Category". "The reservation on linguistic basis is unconstitutional, unlawful and the language can not be criteria to assess backwardness of a community," The Governor has told the state government.
That Governor Vohra stated only constitutional position could be seen from the fact that there is not one section of society in the whole of the country which has been granted reservation in government jobs and educational institutions on linguistic basis.
The Governor has also reportedly debunked the claim of the state government that the "Paharis" were backward or under-privileged. "The Pahari (read Pathowari as Pahari is no language) speaking people do not face any social stigma as 85 percent of them belong to upper castes and they are already enjoying reservation under ALC (3 percent), RBA (20 percent), SC (8 percent), OSC (2 percent) and Open Merit (59 percent), besides maximum population of the community falls under RBA and ALC categories," the Governor's communication to the state government has said.
Sources in the Raj Bhawan have been quoted as saying that "the Governor's Secretary, vide communication No. GS-61 (JK-Amend) 2018/1349, dated 28-02-2018" had asked Chief Secretary B B Vyas to "submit necessary comments of the State Government in respect of the each of the issues raised in the memorandum on urgent basis".
It bears recalling that the state government got the J&K Reservation (Amendment) Bill 2014 adopted by the state legislature only in the fag end of the last budget session. It was the amended version of the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act-2004.
Even otherwise, J&K Reservation (Amendment) Bill 2014 was flawed and untenable. For, it made unjust distinctions between the people living in the hilly and mountainous areas of the state. It considered only people only of Rajouri-Poonch districts in Jammu and erstwhile Baramulla and Kupwara districts in Kashmir ignoring all others. The whole of the state is hilly and mountainous barring the plains of Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts and the Kashmir Valley proper. If the state government is sincere and it has no political axe to grind, it must declare all the people of the state, barring those inhabiting the plains of Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts, as "Pahari".
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