Breath for Karnataka BJP after HC order on Lingayat sub-sect quota request

The BJP government in Karnataka has come under pressure from a dominant sub-sect of its main support base in the state, the Lingayats, to provide education and employment quotas under the Other Backward Class (OBC) category. ), but he got some breathing space after the Karnataka High Court recently ordered a stay on the community’s late assessment.

The Panchamasali Lingayats, who form a key sub-sect of the Lingayat community, have set several deadlines for the government over the past year to decide on their claim. On July 1, 2021, the BJP government ordered the establishment of a committee under the leadership of retired High Court Justice, Justice Subhash B Adi, to consider the application of the Panchamasali community to be included in the category 2A quota for OBCs which would give them 15 percent. percent reserve instead of Category 3B, which only involves a five percent quota.

The community, most of whose members are engaged in agriculture, cited poverty among much of its population as the reason for the OBC reservation request. Although over the years Karnataka has seen several chief ministers from the Lingayat community such as BS Yediyurappa, Basavaraj Bommai and Jagadish Shettar, the grouse of the Panchamasali sub-sector is that it has not received political representation significant despite constituting the largest part of the Veerashaiva Lingayat Caste.

The Karnataka State Backward Caste Federation has petitioned the High Court to challenge the government’s decision to establish the committee and to consider changing the quotas for the Panchamasali Lingayats. The federation asked whether the state government could have issued an executive order to establish the quota assessment committee when the reservation falls under the jurisdiction of the Karnataka State Commission for Castes Act 1995. arrears.

The high court said the federation’s petition raises the question of “whether the state, in its executive power, could appoint a committee, to consider whether the Panchamasali Lingayat sub-sect (which is currently in category 3B), under the government order dated 01.07.2021, can be included in category 2A and if so, under what circumstances”.

On August 12, the court ordered the petitioners to implicate the Karnataka State Backward Classes Commission in the case and also imposed a stay on the activities of the Adi committee. “In the meantime, Respondent #2 – High Level Committee for the Review of Reservations – is urged not to proceed with respect to reference 7(a) above (with respect to the sub-sect Panchamasali Lingayath), until further notice,” Judge B. Veerappa said in an interim order.

The Panchamasali group staged a protest march from Bagalkot in northern Karnataka to Bengaluru last year to press their demand. The march was spread over two months. The protest was called off after Karnataka Chief Minister Yediyurappa requested time to meet the community’s demand in a constitutional and legal manner. Panchamasali community leaders leading the agitation at the time, including BJP Basanagouda MP Patil Yatnal, said the agitation was called off based on assurances Yediyurappa made on the floor of the legislature in make an honest effort to resolve the problem.

“In line with a Cabinet decision to resolve reservations requests from various castes in accordance with legal and constitutional norms, a three-member committee is being constituted under the chairmanship of retired High Court Justice Subhash Adi,” Yediyurappa said before stepping down as CM. July 26, 2021.

The BJP government has said that an investigation is being conducted by the Backward Classes Commission to determine the socio-economic status and backwardness of the Panchamasalis.

Bommai, who replaced Yediyurappa as CM in July 2021, told an all-party meeting in March that a report had been requested from the general counsel on the legal implications of the various requests for new reservations by various communities. “If reservations are to be provided, they must comply with constitutional provisions and Supreme Court orders. The Advocate General has been asked to submit a report in this regard,” Bommai said earlier this year.

The Panchamasalis claim to make up about 85 lakh of the state’s six crore population and claim to make up over 70% of the population of Lingayat which is estimated to be around 17% of the population of Karnataka. The quota agitation was initially sparked in 2021 by BJP MP Murugesh Nirani who was not in the state cabinet at the time. After his induction into Cabinet, leaders such as Yatnal came to the fore in the campaign. The issue rose to prominence in the community because the sub-sect claimed it had been politically overlooked.

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