Lob ball back to Rajasthan: L

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New Delhi, June 2 (UNI) Rajasthan may be advised by the Centre to try and sort out the Gujjar issue along the lines of Maharashtra, informed sources said tonight.

Sources said that has been conveyed to the Home Ministry by the Law and Justice Ministry which holds that any decision in the matter must be taken by the state government.

The Indian Constitution-- Article 16 Clause 1-- prescribes ''equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State. '' Gujjars, already treated as belonging among ''Other Backward Classes'' seek to be classified as a Scheduled Tribe so as to neutralise advantages enjoyed by some other tribal groups, notably Meenas, in public employment.

The Law Ministry's opinion was sought after the Prime Minister's got a communication from Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in the wake of violent Gujjar protests.

The Ministry has suggested taking a cue from the Maharashtra State Public Services [Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, De-notified Tribes (Vimukta Jatis), Nomadic Tribes, Special Backward Category and Other Backward Classes] Act, 2001.

Experts point to a 1992 Supreme Court judgement setting an upper limit of 50 per cent on affirmative action related reservations.

They say the authorities are already within half a point of that limit and now largely have the option of juggling benefits for optimum effect.

UNI MJ SK PM2230

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