Uttarakhand: The bill suggests adding a 30% horizontal reservation for women to the state’s existing female quotas for employment and services. However, not all women can benefit from this.
The Uttarakhand Assembly passed a bill on November 30 guaranteeing local women a 30% horizontal reservation in state government positions. This comes shortly after the Uttarakhand High Court’s stay of a government order from 2006 that gave rise to a similar benefit was overturned by the Supreme Court.
The Uttarakhand Public Services (Horizontal Reservation for Women) Bill, 2022, has now been delivered to the governor.
What does the Bill state?
According to the government, it is challenging for people to live in remote areas, especially for women, because of Uttarakhand’s geographic layout. The Bill’s statement of objects and reasons makes reference to this. They consequently live in less affluent conditions than women in other states. Additionally, women are hardly ever represented in state public services.
The Bill suggests eliminating these disparities by providing women with a 30% horizontal reservation in public services and positions, in addition to the state’s current quotas. Beneficiaries must be women with a domicile certificate from Uttarakhand.
The reservation will apply to jobs with local governments, cooperative committees in Uttarakhand where the state owns at least 51% of the stock, boards created by federal or state legislation in Uttarakhand, and educational institutions that the state owns, controls, or that receive grants from it.
If there are insufficient qualified women to fill the reserved seats, the seats will be filled by qualified male candidates in the order of proficiency.
What function does the Bill fulfil?
The current Uttarakhand Public Services (Horizontal Reservation for Women) Bill, 2022, adds to the state’s existing quotas by proposing to give women 30% horizontal reservation in public positions and services.
This comes after the Uttarakhand High Court’s stay of a government order that offered the same benefit in 2006 was lifted by the Supreme Court.
Geographical layout – The government claims that Uttarakhand’s geographic layout makes life in remote areas challenging for all people, but especially for women.
Living standards – As a result, they are less fortunate than women in other states.
Women are underrepresented in state public services as well.
What is a horizontal reservation?
In December 2020, the Supreme Court made the legal position regarding the interaction between vertical and horizontal reservations clear. In the decision in the case of Saurav Yadav versus State of Uttar Pradesh, a two-judge bench addressed the issue of how different classes of reservation were to be applied in the selection process to fill posts of constables in the state.
Simply put, a vertical reservation applies to each of the groups designated by law separately, whereas a horizontal quota always applies separately to each vertical category, not uniformly.
Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes is referred to as vertical reservation. Horizontal reservations, as opposed to vertical categories, refer to the equal treatment of other beneficiary groups, such as women, veterans, transgender people, and people with disabilities.
For example, if there is a 50% horizontal quota for women, 50% of the candidates chosen in each category of the vertical quota must be women; this includes 50% of the candidates chosen in the SC category, 50% of the candidates chosen in the unreserved or general category, etc.
What defences were offered against the legislation?
The Uttarakhand government under Narayan Datt Tiwari’s leadership issued a government order in 2006 granting horizontal reservations for women with domicile certificates throughout the state. The reservations applied to women who took the State Public Service Commission’s Senior Service and Uttarakhand Combined Service exams. The reservation was open to all women who had domicile certificates, regardless of caste, creed, socioeconomic status, or place of birth.
A petition to overturn the 2006 decision was submitted in 2022 by 16 women from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, including Pavitra Chauhan, Ananya Attri, and others, on the grounds that it was discriminatory to make reservations in public service hiring on the basis of domicile.
The petitioners were female applicants for the state’s civil service examinations who did not reside in Uttarakhand and did not qualify for any reserved categories. The women alleged that despite exceeding the cutoff for students with domicile certificates and receiving higher scores, they were denied permission to take the final exam.
In response to the petition, the Uttarakhand High Court decided to stay the 2006 judgement. Furthermore, it stated that, regardless of a woman’s domicile or place of residence, quotas should be viewed as a horizontal reservation for women.
The 2006 order has been reiterated by the current BJP administration, which is headed by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. The Uttrakhand High Court’s ruling prompted the Dhami government to ask the Supreme Court for a stay.
How did the circumstance end up in court?
As of July 2006, according to a government order, women residing in Uttarakhand are qualified for 30% horizontal reservation, regardless of their caste, creed, and place of birth, place of origin, or social standing.
The order was in force until this year when it was challenged in the Uttarakhand High Court by mainly Pavitra Chauhan, Ananya Attri, and others. These women had registered for the state civil examination and were unreserved foreigners. They contended that despite having preliminary exam scores higher than the cutoff for female candidates with state domicile, they were also denied the chance to take the main exam.
They challenged the GOs on the grounds that they provide horizontal reservation based on a woman’s domicile status in the exams held by the State Public Service Commission for the Senior Service and Uttarakhand Combined Service. The quota should be interpreted as a horizontal reservation for women regardless of their place of residence or domicile, the Uttarakhand High Court decided while suspending the decision.
The case was then taken up by the Supreme Court. In a case before the High Court, the state’s standing attorney argued that the geography and climate of the state forced its youth to leave the state in search of work, leaving women to take care of the home and raise the children. In November, the High Court’s stay was lifted by a bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and V Ramasubramanian after the standing counsel defended the decision to give such women a quota in public employment.
edited and proofread by nikita sharma