Thursday, October 16, 2014

Article 371(J): legal hurdles delay benefits

Clarity is needed. There is no point if ambiguous rules are made which can be challenged in courts: R.K. Hudagi

The much-touted benefits following the special status accorded to the region under Article 371 (J) still elude the people of Hyderabad-Karnataka (HK) region owing to legal hurdles.

The State government notified the regional reservation facilities for HK residents in education and employment under the Constitutional amendment in November last year.

Though provisions benefited some students to get seats through the Common Entrance Test, some portions of the educational reservation rules were challenged in the High Court of Karnataka, resulting in a stay. On the other hand, rules framed for employment were challenged in the KAT and the government notification was stayed in July. Law Minister T.B. Jayachandra announced in the Assembly that the government would present its case before the courts and get the stays vacated. However, nothing has been done yet.

Activists see this as indifference. “We are forced to think that the development of this backward region is not top priority for the State government,” said B.G. Shetkar, convener, district development association.

Raghavendra Kushtagi, a senior leader of the Hyderabad Karnataka Horata Samiti, said: “There are around 40 elected representatives in HK region. What are they doing,” he asked.

Hanumanth Biradar, KRV leader, said: “Over 25,000 HK residential certificates were issued to youth in Bidar district alone. What is the point if they don’t get jobs or admission in colleges.”

He pointed out the delay had held up appointments of teachers and staff in important institutions such as Bidar Institute of Medical Sciences.

R.K. Hudagi, writer and social activist, says that Article 371(J) needed clarity. “There is no point if ambiguous rules are made which can be challenged in courts,” Professor Hudagi said.

SFI leader Lakshmi Bavuge added that the State government promised HK youth State-wide reservation in education and employment though there was no such provision in the original amendment. Vaijanath Patil, Hyderabad Karnataka Horata Samiti president, said he had requested Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to ensure that the legal hurdles were cleared soon.

“Legal battles take time. Our cases are on track and we hope our notifications will be upheld,” said Mr. Jayachandra.