Raipur: In a significant move, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Thursday announced a hike in Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Scheduled Castes (SC) quota in the state.

The CM made the announcement during his Independence Day speech at the Police Parade Ground in the state capital.

What are the respective quota figures after the hike?

Baghel announced that 27% and 13% reservation will now be allowed to OBCs and SCs respectively in government jobs and educational institutes in the state. Earlier, while the former were getting 14% reservation, the latter got 12%. The quota figure for the Scheduled Tribes, meanwhile, remains unchanged at 32%.

In his speech, the CM said that the SCs and OBCs had been raising issues about their rights peacefully and it was the government’s job to protect them.

Is the hike legal? Does it violate any law?

The hike means that the state will have 72% reservation, well above the Supreme Court-mandated 50% ceiling. However, even before the hike the reservation% in Chhattisgarh was over 50%; besides, officials are confident of meeting any legal challenge. According to them, with the OBCs constituting 47% of the state’s population, it is unfair for them to have just 14% reservation.

The government now aims to pass the bill either in the Vidhan Sabha or via the ordinance route.

Do other states also violate the SC’s 50% cap ruling?

There are states like Haryana, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu which exceed the SC-mandated cap of 50% reservation in states. Even Madhya Pradesh, from which Chhattisgarh was carved out in November 2000, just last month raised OBC quota from 14% to 27%.

What other announcements did the CM make?

Besides quota hike, the CM also announced that an elephant reserve, called the Lemru Elephant Reserve, will be set up in Korba district. He also announced the formation of the 28th district of the state called Gaurela-Pendra Marwahi. From October 2, the government will also launch an anti-malnutrition scheme called ‘Suposhan Abhiyan’.

Both Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are currently governed by the Congress, which came to power in the two states after winning the December 2018 Assembly elections. It also won in a third state-Rajasthan.