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High court seeks Rajasthan government reply on Gujjar committee


Jaipur : The Rajasthan high court has sought a reply from the state government within a week on a petition challenging the formation of a high powered committee to look into demands of Gujjars for granting them scheduled tribe status.

The petitioner Lakham Singh in his petition has said that no state government or union territory in the country has the power to constitute a commission or committee on reservations.

"The high court on Tuesday has sought a reply from the state government on it in a week's time", A.K. Gupta, counsel for petitioner, told IANS here Wednesday.

"As per article 338-a (9) of the Constitution, every union and every state government shall consult the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes on all major policy matters affecting them and in this case the state government has on its own formed the commission which is contrary to the article", Gupta said.

Moreover, the union government in 2003 had sent a directive to all state governments that before taking any policy decision in regards to reservations, the state must consult and hold talks with the national commission for scheduled caste and tribes, according to Gupta.

Requesting the court to restrain the committee from working, the petitioner said that this move of the state government would inflate caste wars in Rajasthan.

The high powered committee was formed after protesting Gujjars and the state government reached an agreement on June 4, according to which a retired high court judge was to head a three member committee that would look into the demands of Gujjars.

Justice Jasraj Chopra, a retired judge of Rajasthan high court, was made the head of the committee while Professor Yogesh Atal, a sociologist of international standing, has been made a member.

T. Srinivasan, a senior IAS officer, has been appointed special secretary to the committee. It has already started its hearings and is slated to submit its report to the state government in three months.

As a first step, the committee has asked the Gujjar community as well as others to submit memorandums and representations by July 16.

The Gujjars, who are presently classified as other backward caste (OBC), had held violent protests all over the state from May 29 to June 4 demanding tribal status for better job and educational opportunities.

The agitation had paralysed Rajasthan completely for a week as major roads were blocked while train services were disrupted. At least 26 people were killed and hundreds injured in the violence. The state government and the protesting Gujjars had reached an understanding on June 4.