The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Court bursts CM’s domicile bubble

Ranchi, Nov. 27: In a body blow inflicted on the Babulal Marandi government ahead of the Godda bypoll, Jharkhand High Court today quashed its notifications on the state’s domicile policy and termed it a “hostile discrimination of the public at large”.

A constitution bench headed by Chief Justice V.K. Gupta set aside the notifications issued by the government regarding “essential criteria” for appointment to Class III and Class IV posts and admissions to technical institutions of Jharkhand.

Justice Gurusharan Sharma, Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya, Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice Lakshman Uraon were the other members of the bench which delivered the verdict, reserved since September. The notifications were issued by the government on August 8 and August 19.

The government’s policy stipulates that persons whose, or whose forefathers’, names figure in the last land survey would be deemed “domicile” of Jharkhand. According to the policy, these persons would be eligible to apply for Class III and IV government jobs and for admission to technical institutes.

Not satisfied with the government’s contention, the court observed: “How would the concerned authority determine local persons merely on the basis of identification by five khatiyanis (land survey), whose ancestors’ names appearing in the records of rights are stated to have been prepared more than 70 years ago'”

“A person who is a non-resident or outsider is not prevented from applying for consideration of his case for appointment against any Class III or Class IV post in the state of Jharkhand, if otherwise eligible.... This is a hostile discrimination of the public at large,” the bench observed.

The court set aside the “definition” and the “guidelines”. It, however, allowed the government to redefine “local persons” in accordance with the judgment and the observations. It also allowed the state to “re-prescribe the guidelines for determination of local persons taking into account the relevant history of the state, such as reorganisation as taken from time to time, emigration of persons as has taken place during the last 50 years, settlement of refugees....”

Elated over the order, the JMM’s central committee said: “The judgment has exposed the Marandi government. The domicile police was a conspiracy to misguide the moolwasis of Jharkhand. Had it not been so, the government would have got the policy cleared from the Assembly and Parliament. The Marandi government has shattered the dreams of the people of Jharkhand. The misdeeds of the government will be exposed in the Godda Lok Sabha bypoll.”

The BJP sought to put up a brave face. Lok Sabha member Salkhan Murmu, who led the pro-domicile agitation, told The Telegraph from Delhi: “The verdict is anti-people. It is dangerous to democracy. It has disregarded the hopes and aspirations of the tribals and moolwasis for whom the state was created.”

The judgment comes after the high court set aside, pending a Supreme Court verdict, the state’s reservations policy, providing 73 per cent quota for the weaker sections in government jobs. The “domicile and quota agitation” had unleashed havoc in the state in July and claimed at least five lives.

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