HC allows govt to decide on Panchamasali quota in K’taka
The high court on Thursday allowed the Karnataka government to decide on the reservation for the Panchamasali Lingayat sub-sect while directing the state not to disturb the constitutionally guaranteed quota to other communities in the existing category 2A of the caste-based reservation list.
A division bench, comprising chief justice Prasanna B Varale and justice Ashok S Kinagi, passed the order while modifying its earlier interim order passed in the PIL petition filed by Raghavendra DG of Bengaluru.
The bench said the final adjudication of the pending petition would be applicable to the decision taken by the government on the Panchamasali community.
During the winter session of the Karnataka assembly, the government announced the creation of two new categories: 2C and 2D, to include the Lingayats and Vokkaligas. The Panchamasali caste of Lingayats has been demanding inclusion in the 2A category.
The state has four categories of OBC: 2A, 2B, 3A and 3B based on the economic, social and educational status. These communities get preferential reservations in jobs and educational institutions based on the categories. While 2A are the most backward, 2B are moderate, and a little above them is 3A and 3B.
Challenging the government’s decision, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the high court by Raghavendra DG.
Arguing for the petitioner, advocate Ravivarma Kumar sought a stay order on the government’s decision, which was granted by the court. “The petitioner is deeply agitated by the ongoing agitation and demands which has resulted in certain particular caste being hand-picked by the first respondent (state government) for a favourable treatment discriminating against the petitioner’s caste,” read the petition.
The petitioner belongs to the Other Backward Caste (OBC), which is currently under 2A. The two dominant communities – Vokkaliga and Panchamasalis – which are in 3A and 3B categories – have been demanding reservations under 2A status, and the government decided to abolish 3A and 3B categories. The government decided to create two new categories: 2C and 2D. Those presently 3A and 3B would now find a place in 2C and 2D.
In the interim order, the bench directed the state government to maintain the status quo on the interim report of the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes (KSCBC) concerning the demand for inclusion of the Panchamasali Lingayat sub-sect in Category 2A.
This order for the status quo has now been removed.
The bench modified the January 12 interim order after Solicitor General of India (SGI) Tushar Mehta, on March 23, gave an undertaking to the court that any decision to be taken by the government on Panchamasali Lingayat sub-sect will not have any impact on the reservation quota for castes in Category 2A.
Pointing out that one of the main apprehensions expressed in the petition was that the inclusion of the Panchamasali Lingayat sub-sect in the existing Category 2A list would impact members of the existing castes in Category 2A, Mehta clarified to the bench that the decision to be taken by the government on Panchamasali Lingayat sub-sect would not impact the reservation for the existing castes in category 2A.
When the petitioner’s counsel opposed vacating the status quo order, the bench said that the court would not stop the government from taking a decision when it is not directly impacting the contention raised by the petitioner.
With the Karnataka high court vacating the order, prominent Panchamasali seer Jayamrutyunjaya Swami on Thursday asked the Karnataka government to implement reservation for the community at the earliest.
The pontiff told the media that the major demand of the community was reservation under the 2A category, which has 15% reservation. In this, the reservation offered to the Lingayat community, of which the Panchamasalis are a sub-sect, was 5%. “Even if the government cannot provide the extent of a reservation granted under 2A, reservation offered under 2D should be close to that number,” he said.
“The government has not issued a notification yet on the extent of reservation (for Panchamasalis) under 2D. Tomorrow (Friday), it should clarify the extent of reservation and the benefits for the Panchamasali community in education and jobs,” the seer said.
He also said that the Prime Minister’s office sent a positive message to the community on March 22 on their demand for higher reservations. He also said that he is hopeful the state government would accept their demand.
Jaya Mruthyunjaya seer, who has been protesting for the past 68 days demanding higher reservation, said that Amit Shah and JP Nadda have spoken to Vijayapura MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal.
“We had written to PM Modi demanding justice, and as a reply to it, home minister Amit Shah has spoken to Basanagouda Patil Yatnal for 90 minutes. Even JP Nadda spoke in Yatnal, and they understood the importance of the community and the need to fulfil our demands. On Ugadi, we have received a positive response from the PMO assuring to fulfil our demands,” the seer said.
He also hoped the state government would fulfil their demands on March 24. “I request the chief minister to follow the directions of the Prime Minister’s office and fulfil our demand of 2A reservation in the cabinet meeting scheduled on March 24,” the seer added.
Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Monday that the issue might be discussed in the next cabinet meeting.