This open letter is intended to express our concern at the improper implementation of the national policy of reservations at Goa University (GU). In June 2014 it was reported that there had been serious violations of the system of reservations in recruitment as laid down in the Constitution. It now appears that the problem is deeper than first reported.
To provide a brief summary of the reports: Nearly a year ago, in September 2013, the University had, through an advertisement, invited applications for 68 regular posts of Professor, Associate Professor, and Assistant Professor, along with 4 temporary posts of like nature. Of the 68 posts, a total of 29 were reserved for Other Backward Castes (OBCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Scheduled Castes (SCs), plus another 7 for non-caste quotas. The 4 temporary posts had no reservations. These positions in the reserved category were opened to candidates from outside Goa, even though the Constitution clearly stipulates that the reservation is for locals. The reason is simple: the injustice and discrimination are local, hence the remedy or compensation has to be local. Hence, the percentage of jobs to be reserved is based on the state-wise population of the community.
Not only is there clarity in the law on this point, the same was also apparently pointed out by the University’s screening committee itself on the application forms of candidates. Documents obtained from GU under the RTI ( Right to Information) Act by concerned parties show that at least one application of a candidate from outside Goa in the OBC category was marked ‘Eligible under General category, OBC not from G’. Despite this, the University opted to interview and then appoint ineligible candidates; in other words, this violation of the law seems to have been knowingly carried out.
Fortunately, these improper appointments were challenged by local applicants, and also criticised in the local press, after which they were apparently withdrawn. However, no new appointments have yet been made from among the eligible candidates.
But this is just the beginning of the story. According to further information obtained through RTI applications, the discrimination against STs, SCs and OBCs in the Goa University goes beyond these latest appointments, to the very method by which the reserved posts are calculated. To put it simply, the University seems to have ignored the reserved quota as shown in the University Roster, the document which is meant to record the implementation of reservations in jobs.
The Subversion of the Roster
As a result of continued and blatant subversion of the reservation scheme by various institutions, including universities across India, the Supreme Court in 1995 mandated a post-based recruitment roster for a single cadre across all departments. This resulted in the creation in July 1997 of the current 200 point post-based roster, which would ensure that the number of reserved positions would be filled according to the legal quota.
The GU Roster is not generally open to public scrutiny, despite being a document of great importance to the public. Following the recruitment mess described above though, RTI applications were made to view the Roster. The document obtained was incomplete and appears to have problems, for example, it reveals that the total number of posts in the cadre of Professors are 31 (all having been occupied at some time or the other), but shows the posts only up to serial number of “09”. The other posts are just not shown. Hence, when calculating the backlog it is calculated on the basis of a strength of 9 and not 31. The backlog of reservations are hence proportionately reduced to 30% of what they should be.
There are other such ‘errors’. But we are for the moment going to leave that aside. What we want to point to is the total backlog. The total backlog of reserved posts that have not been filled, according to this Roster, for all the three cadres, namely Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor, amounts to 41 vacancies. Normally when a recruitment drive is held, the total number of posts will be divided into ‘general’ and ‘reserved’ according to the percentages laid out by the government, up to a maximum of 50% reserved. But if there is a backlog of vacancies, things change. According to Article 16(4B) of the Constitution of India, and the order O. M. No. 36012/5/97-Estt(Res).VoI.II dated 20.7.2000 (following Article 16 (4B) vide the Constitution (81st Amendment) Act, 2000) the backlog of reserved vacancies of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) & OBCs should be treated as a separate and distinct group. They should not be considered together with the reserved vacancies of the year in which they are filled for the purposes of determining the ceiling of 50% reservation on the total number of vacancies for that year. In other words, although the total number of reservations is not to exceed 50% of the seats, this does not include the backlog of 41 positions. This backlog should be first accounted for, and the remaining posts divided into ‘general’ and ‘reserved’.
So, if there were 68 positions advertised, 41 of these would have been reserved for the purpose of reducing the backlog of vacancies. The remaining 27 positions should have been divided according to 54% general and 46% reserved. This means that the reserved positions would have been approximately 13 plus the backlog of 41, i.e. a total of 54.
But the University ignored the backlog. The result was that the total reserved positions at 36 is even less than the backlog of 41 reserved posts, and much less than the 54 that it should be. Meanwhile, the proportionate increase in the general category has risen from 16 to 36 positions! A number of candidates from the General category therefore benefited illegitimately (though inadvertently), being appointed to positions that ought to have been filled by local candidates from the Scheduled groups.
A related issue is that the University appears to have no Temporary Post Roster, which means that temporary posts can be filled without ensuring that reservation quotas are met. As a result, four temporary posts (of two year tenure) were also advertised during the current recruitment period and filled by general category candidates.
Finally, the method of distribution of all these permanent posts between the different categories was not transparent.
Conclusions and Demands
The University claims today that it was not aware of the relevant legal positions. This, as we explained above, is difficult to believe. In any case, it is an established legal principle that the ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse. The whole mess in fact seems to have been done knowingly, out of a desire to scuttle the Constitutionally-guaranteed policy of reservations. It also reveals the brazen manner in which casteism continues to prevail within Goa University. Let us not forget that this ‘lack of awareness’ provided the general category – which means the dominant castes – at least 20 positions extra in the current recruitment. If such attempts are allowed to be successful, casteist injustice and the deprivation of the legitimate rights of the SC, ST, and OBC communities of Goa will continue for decades to come, if not longer.
We hence demand that the Government of Goa moves appropriately to ensure that the Goa University immediately,
- Strikes down all the appointments in the general category in the recruitment that followed the advertisement of September 2013, and compensates the appointees for the loss
- Appoints the eligible candidates in the reserved category who were diligent enough to protest the improprieties, and protects their rights based on the marks obtained at the interview; or, if there was only one candidate, appoints her/him directly.
- Prepares the University Roster afresh, rectifying the backlog of reserved positions and vacancies for candidates from Scheduled communities; and makes it public before any further advertisement for recruitment; also checks the Rosters of all affiliated colleges and makes them public.
- Institutes an inquiry into the entire recent round of recruitment to fix responsibility for the improprieties, and ensures that all those who were associated with this round are not involved in the process of recruiting henceforth.
- Amita Kanekar, historian
- Dr Albertina Almeida, advocate and human rights activist
- Thalmann Pradeep Pereira, advocate and trade unionist
- Chrissie D’Costa, researcher in applied linguistics
- Augusto Pinto, Associate Professor, S.S.Dempo College of Com. & Econ.
- Dr Anjali Arondekar, Associate Professor, Univ. of California at Santacruz
- Dr Anibel Ferus-Comelo, policy analyst
- Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar, doctor
- Hartman de Souza, theatre director, teacher, and writer
- Lucano Alvares, writer
- Joao Fernandes, advocate and human rights activist
- Rahul Srivastava, urbanologist and writer
- Dadu Mandrekar, writer, poet, and artist
- Auda Viegas, women’s rights activist
- Fr. Dr. Victor Ferrao, Dean of Philosophy, Rachol Seminary
- Dr Rochelle Pinto, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
- Anjali Sen Gupta, consultant editor
- Dr Mariette Correa, researcher