1932 land records won’t be only basis: Jharkhand minister in Assembly

The Jharkhand government Monday said that deliberations on the state’s new domicile policy are still on and that the land records of the year 1932 will not be the ‘only basis’. Rural Development Minister Alamgir Alam said that many districts had been left out in the 1932 survey and the government was studying all the nuances of the land records. He was responding to a question from Independent MLA Saryu Roy in the Assembly.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha supremo Shibu Soren had earlier said that 1932 should be made the cut-off date for the state’s domicile policy, and some ministers, including Education Minister Jagarnath Mahato and Transport Minister Champai Soren, had supported the proposal.

Initially Alam responded by reading out the response that he had already provided, however, he was prodded by Roy and All Jharkhand Students Union leader Sudesh Mahato to come out with a clearer response.

“It is clear that 1932 land records will remain as proof. However, we are studying it as many surveys were undertaken in various other districts till 1964; for Palamu it was done in 1997. Now, consider a family staying in Jharkhand for five generations, and if the land records were made in 1974, they will miss out on the domicile (if 1932 is taken as the base year); and where will they go,” Alam said.

To this Sudesh Mahato sought a clarity on the statements of ministers (Jagarnath Mahato and Champai Soren), and, also, that the government should give a time frame. However, Speaker Rabindra Nath Mahato responded by saying that let the government work on it.

Later, responding to a question by AJSU legislator Lambodar Mahato on reservation to OBCs in elections, Chief Minister Hemant Soren told the Assembly that the people from the OBC community will fight elections with or without reservation. Jharkhand has only 14% seats reserved for OBCs.

Mahato raised the issue of panchayat elections that are due since 2021, citing a recent Supreme Court judgment. Before provisioning reservation for the OBC category, the top court in its successive judgments laid down the ‘triple test’ criteria — a Commission to conduct “rigorous empirical inquiry into nature and implications of the backwardness in the local bodies”; “specify the proportion of reservation required to be provisioned local body-wise in light of recommendations of the Commission, so as not to fall foul of overbreadth”; and that “in any case, such reservation shall not exceed 50 per cent of the total seats reserved in favour of SCs/STs/OBCs taken together”.

To this, the chief minister said ‘triple test’ before elections was not binding. “The panchayat elections are pending and we have come to know that the opposition is gearing up to mobilise people for a protest against the delay. At the same time, the opposition wants triple test. Around Rs 700-800 crore central grants/aid didn’t reach us because of the delay in elections. The triple test will take time and the government will suffer more economic loss. It is not that OBCs are losing out on their rights without reservation.”

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