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Union Government Forms Committee to Explore SC Sub-Categorisation

  • Published
    19th Jan, 2024

In response to the demand for sub-categorisation of Scheduled Castes (SCs) by the Madiga community, the Union government has established a five-member committee of Secretaries, chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, to examine and devise a method for the fair allocation of benefits, schemes, and initiatives among the diverse SC communities nationwide.

  • The move follows the longstanding struggle of the Madiga community, dating back to 1994, advocating for the sub-categorisation of SCs.
  • This demand led to the creation of the Justice P. Ramachandra Raju Commission in 1996 and a subsequent National Commission in 2007, both affirming the possibility of sub-categorisation.

Need for Equitable Distribution:

  • With over 1,200 SCs in the country, certain forward and dominant communities have overshadowed the more backward ones in terms of benefit distribution.
  • The Madiga community, constituting at least 50% of the SCs in Telangana, has raised concerns about the unequal allocation of benefits, particularly reservations, where the Mala community is perceived to have garnered the majority.

Supreme Court's Role:

  • Simultaneously, a seven-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court is set to scrutinize the permissibility of sub-categorisation among SCs and Scheduled Tribes.
  • While the court focuses on the constitutionality of sub-categorisation in reservations for jobs and education, the government's committee is mandated to explore alternative strategies for addressing grievances.

Committee's Focus:

  • The committee, formed earlier this month, includes representatives from the Home Ministry, Law Ministry, Tribal Affairs Ministry, and Social Justice Ministry.
  • Explicitly instructed not to delve into reservation-related questions deemed sub-judice, the committee aims to explore avenues such as special initiatives and targeted focus on existing schemes.

Legal Perspective:

  • In 2005, the Union government had contemplated legal options for SC sub-categorisation.
  • The possibility was acknowledged by the then Attorney General of India, contingent on "unimpeachable evidence" indicating a necessity.
  • Both the National Commissions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, however, argued against constitutional amendments, emphasizing the urgency of ensuring the prioritized delivery of existing schemes and benefits.

Awaiting Census Data:

  • Legal experts suggest that for the government to justify sub-categorisation, a comprehensive caste census with socio-economic data is imperative.
  • Experts emphasize the need for a 100% count of all castes to determine the empirical basis for allocating benefits among various SC communities.

About Madiga Community

  • The Madiga community is a significant community in the Indian state of Telangana, and they are primarily engaged in traditional occupations like leatherwork and related activities.
  • Occupation: Leatherwork, including tanning and crafting of leather goods. They often work with animal hides to produce items like footwear, bags, and other leather products.
  • Social Status: The Madiga community has faced social discrimination and historically occupied a lower social status.
  • Cultural Practices: The Madiga community has its own cultural practices, including festivals, rituals, and traditional art forms.
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