India

10% quota for Agniveers in CAPFs faces hurdles

Enrolment in the CAPFs is done as per the existing reservation system and cannot exceed the 50% cap as fixed by the Supreme Court. File

Enrolment in the CAPFs is done as per the existing reservation system and cannot exceed the 50% cap as fixed by the Supreme Court. File | Photo Credit: C. Ratheesh Kumar

In a bid to diffuse the violent protest that emanated after the Agnipath scheme was announced, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on June 18 that 10% of all vacancies in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) or the paramilitary will be reserved for the recruits under the scheme.

However, the new reservation promise that will have to fit horizontally alongside the existing caste-based quota and physical eligibility requirements in the CAPFs is proving to be a challenge for the Ministry.

While the minimum height requirement across all armed forces under the Agnipath scheme is 152.5 cm, the minimum height required for a general duty constable in a combat role in all CAPFs is 165 cm.

The armed forces do not recruit according to caste-based formula but enrolment in the CAPFs is done as per the existing reservation system and cannot exceed the 50% cap as fixed by the Supreme Court.

According to a government order, there shall be a reservation of 15% for the members of the Scheduled Castes (SC), 7.5 % for the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and 27% for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) “in the matter of appointment by direct recruitment to civil posts and civil services on all-India basis by open competition.”

If new battalions in CAPFs are not raised, the recruitment can be done only against the existing vacancies arising out of retirement, death or any miscellaneous reason. “If a Scheduled Caste Constable in CAPF has retired, the slot can be only filled by an SC Agniveer, else it might upset the overall quota. How it pans out in the future remains to be seen, if all the SC or ST seats are not filled in absence of such candidates, they might get converted to general category posts,” said a senior government official.

Another teething problem the Ministry is examining is the different height specifications in the armed forces. While Army has notified a minimum requirement of 170 cm height for general category Agniveers, the Navy and Air Force’s requirement is 157 cm and 152.5 cm respectively in the same category. The male constables recruited in CAPFs under the general category must stand 170 cm tall. “The government will have to relax the height specification for Agniveers if they are to be recruited in CAPF. Another problem that might be encountered in the future is what role the Agniveers would be assigned in CAPFs due to the height anomaly. Unlike Army, constables here also must do the paperwork,” said another government official.

The members of the reserved category and those from hilly States get relaxation by up to 5 cm in height in CAPFs and in the Army. MHA did not comment on the issue.

The 10-lakh strong CAPFs comprise the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Border Security Force (BSF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Indo Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) that are under the administrative and operational control of the MHA. The Assam Rifles deployed along the Myanmar border is under the administrative control of the MHA. Unlike the armed forces, here the retirement age is 60 years.

An official said, “The CRPF, one of the largest central forces, has a strength of over 3 lakhs. On an average, around 2.5%-3% people retire every year, so the vacancy every year cannot be more than 9,000. The number of vacancies for candidates applying as freshers under various caste categories in CAPFs will naturally decrease due to the 10% reservation to Agniveers,” said the official.

The CAPFs have also sought clarity from the MHA regarding the implementation of the 10% reservation.

“Till now, we have only seen a tweet by the Ministry on the proposed reservation. There is no notification yet and the rules are yet to be framed,” said a senior CAPF official.

On June 18, in the wake of violent protests over the Agnipath scheme, MHA announced through a tweet that 10% of all vacancies in the CAPFs and Assam Rifles will be reserved for the armed forces recruits who have completed four years of service under the Agnipath scheme. This reservation will be other than the existing 10% quota for ex-servicemen in CAPFs, the MHA said. The Ministry also announced a five-year age relaxation for the first batch of Agniveers.


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Printable version | Aug 7, 2022 9:53:30 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/10-quota-for-agniveers-in-capfs-faces-hurdles/article65592963.ece