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Gujarat's reservation policy: State govt "refuses" RTI information on meetings, minutes at CM level

Kirit Rathod
By Our Representative
In a step, which is likely to raise eye-brows of India’s top right to information (RTI) activists, the Gujarat government has refused to part with any information regarding official review of the state’s reservation policy towards Dalits, Adivasis and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) between 2001 and 2015.
In their RTI replies, officials of the Gujarat government have said that state departments do not have “any record” on review of the reservation policy, nor have any committees been set up at the chief ministerial or ministerial level regarding this.
Senior Dalit rights activist Kirit Rathod, in an RTI plea, had sought “agenda and minutes of the meetings, which may have taken place for reviewing the quota policy under the chairmanship of the chief minister at district, departmental, ministerial, or chief ministerial level."
Addressed to the general administration department (GAD) of the Gujarat government, responsible for personnel issues, Rathod’s application was transferred to two separate departments for a reply – social justice and empowerment and tribal development.
Giving details of the reply he received from the two departments, Rathod, who is associated with top Gujarat Dalit rights NGO, Navsarjan Trust, Ahmedabad, says, the public information officer (PIO) of the tribal development department, Narendra Vaghela, in a “shocking” reply told him that since reservation is a “policy issue, it does not deal with it.”
As for the social justice and empowerment department, Rathod received two separate replies. One of them, by PIO JV Desai, was on Gujarat OBCs, which said that the department “does not have any records of the review of the reservation policy under the chairmanship of the chief minister.”
It further said, “The department has not constituted any committee for the review of the reservation policy at the district, departmental, ministerial or chief ministerial level.”
In a separate reply on Gujarat Dalits, PIO Jagdish Khadiya said, “Since the issues involved regarding reservation policy Dalits is not on agenda, it is not possible to provide any information.”
Rathod wonders whether the replies suggest the Gujarat government has not been serious in reviewing the implementation of the reservation policy at the highest level. “It exposes government claims that it is remains committed to reservation”, he says in a communiqué.
The Navsarjan Trust activist had demanded information about the reviews that may have taken place under the reservation policy against the backdrop of demand for quota within the OBC framework by upper caste Patel agitators.
The Patel agitation, which began in mid-2015, spread to all parts of Gujarat, is said to be the main reason why the ruling BJP lost district and taluka panchayat elections, held in November-end and early December, at the hand of the opposition Congress.
Rathod asks, “Does one conclude that neither under the chief ministership of Narendra Modi, who calls himself OBC, nor under Anandiben Patel, the present chief minister, no committees have been made or reviews taken place regarding the reservation policy either at their level or at the ministerial level?”
Rathod says, the reply is particularly surprising, as the state government had reportedly set up a committee under the chairmanship of senior minister Nitin Patel to look into the quota demand of the Patel agitators.
“It is difficult to understand why state officials are refusing to part any details of its meetings”, he says.

Comments

Unknown said…
RTI द्वारा PMO से माँगी गयी जानकारी रेलवे द्वारा धारा 7(1) के अंतर्गत आदेशित लेटर DLW वाराणसी में लंबित
Venkatesh Nayak said…
This is so typical. Deny that anything is happening until they reach a decision. It might be worthwhile to write to the NHRC on this issue.

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