Supreme Court quashes decision to include Jats in OBC category, says caste can’t be sole ground

The court said the Centre gave a go by to the statutory scheme in according reservation benefits to a "politically organised" community.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published:March 18, 2015 11:07 am
Jat quota, Jat reservation, SC Jat quota, SC Jat reservation The Supreme Court said social backwardness had to be the prime consideration for granting OBC status and such recognition could not be associated with caste alone.

Scrapping the Centre’s March 2014 notification to include Jats in the central list of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category in nine states, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that “caste” and “historical injustice” cannot blind a state in according backward status to a community and that new emerging groups such as transgenders must be identified for quota benefits.

In a judgment that laid down new norms for identification of backward classes for benefits of reservation and redefined the concept of affirmative action by the state, the court held that “social groups which would be most deserving must necessarily be a matter of continuous evolution” and the principle of affirmative action under the Constitution obligated the state “to reach out to the most deserving” class.

“An affirmative action policy that keeps in mind only historical injustice would certainly result in under-protection of the most deserving backward class of citizens, which is constitutionally mandated. It is the identification of these new emerging groups that must engage the attention of the state,” the bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton F Nariman said.

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The government may challenge this judgment by filing a review petition which, more often than not, has not changed the outcome in other instances in the past.

Alternatively, the government can proceed to remove all deficiencies pointed out in the judgment and issue a fresh notification. For that, the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) will have to conduct a fresh survey — it had given detailed reasons why Jats did not deserve to be included — to adduce contemporaneous data for suggesting Jats are a socially backward class and, therefore, deserve reservation.

The apex court underlined that constitutional power and duty must be concentrated to discover such groups “rather than to enable groups of citizens to recover ‘lost ground’ in claiming preference and benefits on the basis of historical prejudice”.

The bench held that the perception of a “self-proclaimed socially backward class” of citizens, or even the perception of “advanced classes” as to the social status of the “less fortunates”, cannot continue to be a constitutionally permissible yardstick for determination of backwardness.

It said social backwardness had to be the prime consideration for granting OBC status and such recognition could not be associated with caste alone.

Citing its landmark verdict on the recognition of the third gender as a socially and educationally backward class, the court said that this judgement was a pathfinder, if not a pathbreaker.

“It is an important reminder to the state of the high degree of vigilance it must exercise to discover emerging forms of backwardness. The state, therefore, cannot blind itself to the existence of other forms and instances of backwardness,” the bench said.

It was a poll-eve decision by the UPA-II government in March 2014 to include Jats in the central list of OBC category — the Jats have strong social and political clout in western Uttar Pradesh and its bordering areas of Uttarakhand, Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan besides being present in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The notification included the Jat community in the OBC list in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan (Bharatpur and Dholpur), Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and extended benefits of reservation to Jats in job and education.

While doing so, the government had overruled the opinion by the NCBC. The government argued that the move was “in public interest” and that the NCBC’s advice was “directory and not mandatory”. Later, the NDA government also supported the UPA decision in court.

However, allowing a batch of petitions that had challenged the inclusion, the court noted that that authority of the government under Articles 15 (4) and 16 (4) to make special provisions, including reservation in appointments for certain disadvantaged classes, also cast a duty to make sure those deserving such benefits are getting it.

The bench faulted the decision made by the Cabinet on March 2, 2014 to grant OBC status to Jats, stating they seemed to have overlooked the fact that crucial test for determination of the entitlement had to be “social backwardness” and the NCBC had given specific reasons to discard it.

“Inclusion of the politically organised classes (such as Jats) in the list of backward classes mainly, if not solely, on the basis that on the same parameters other groups, which have fared better have been so included, cannot be affirmed,” said the court, quashing the notification.

Referring to its verdict in Indra Sawhney’s case in 1992, the bench affirmed that although caste may be a prominent and distinguishing factor for easy determination of backwardness of a social group, such identification based solely on caste had been routinely discouraged by the Supreme Court.

“Backwardness is a manifestation caused by the presence of several independent circumstances which may be social, cultural, economic, educational or even political. New practices, methods and yardsticks have to be continuously evolved, moving away from caste-centric definition of backwardness. This alone can enable recognition of newly emerging groups in society which would require palliative action,” it said.

The court added that an exercise to determine backwardness required contemporaneous data but in this case, data more than a decade old were relied upon.

“The necessary data on which the exercise has to be made, as already observed by us, has to be contemporaneous. Outdated statistics cannot provide accurate parameters for measuring backwardness for the purpose of inclusion in the list of Other Backward Classes. This is because one may legitimately presume progressive advancement of all citizens on every front i.e. social, economic and education. Any other view would amount to retrograde governance,” it said.

 

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  1. A
    Anu
    Feb 24, 2016 at 8:58 am
    I want all the quota should be stop here. We all are equal. Every one should be treated equally. Why a general will suffer all time. And sc/st or obc quota are already having in good govt. Post
    Reply
    1. P
      PARVEEN
      Feb 23, 2016 at 1:14 pm
      !! श्रीः ॐ गं गणपतये नमो नमः श्रीः !!
      Reply
      1. P
        PARVEEN
        Feb 23, 2016 at 1:57 pm
        I believe in God help those who help them self, there for i comment that SUPREME COURT may be attation to forwarding JUDGEMENT other wise God (HONORABLE SUN) shall not FORGIVE SUPREME COURT. Because India Is A God Goddess Green LAND. Please take attation. God Bless All.
        Reply
        1. P
          PARVEEN
          Feb 23, 2016 at 1:44 pm
          I respect my living land (HINDUSTAN), but present PUNCH are not able for judgement, they always Prejudice, So that ATTATION.
          Reply
          1. P
            PARVEEN
            Feb 23, 2016 at 1:27 pm
            We are Indian and we are believe in non violence but this revolution is harmful for every live thing. This notice is enough for (Miya bebe Raje To kay Kari gi Kaji)
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            1. P
              PARDEEP NANDAL
              Feb 17, 2016 at 8:32 am
              I RESPECT THE COURT DICISION . THE COURT HAVE END THE ALL RESERVETIONS BECAUSE WHICH IS HARMALY EFFECT THE INDIAN TALENT.
              Reply
              1. D
                Diplomat
                Mar 17, 2015 at 5:10 pm
                What will happen to Maharashtra Govt. decision to provide reservation to Marathas? Same fate I guess. May be it is plan by political cl. If they do not provide reservation then they do not get vote. So give reservation, get votes and then let SC cancel it so that they have someone else to blame !!!
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                  Arya Deepak
                  Mar 17, 2015 at 12:37 pm
                  It is neither a great decision nor a justified one.The non-creamy layer category was enough justified in itself since it excluded every jat whose was rich economically. Last year when I heard that we(jats) were given OBC status in centre my carrier goal almost touched skies .From a job in SSC I started thinking of IIM but everything shattered instantly today .I am feeling emptiness deep inside my heart ,darkness has encircled me as if their is no hope left no motivative exist to work hard .Yes I am a JAT ,Yes I come from a village where exist no hospital no school no post office no compeion then why can't I have a reservation when I too belong to non-creamy layer ,here I must be heard .If not brutal SC ,someone somebody should listen me ,feel my pain ,my sorrows .I need somebody to give a little empathy since my future is full of darkness ,poverty , inequality of income , inequality of opportunities and lot more. Deepak
                  Reply
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                    Arya Deepak
                    Mar 17, 2015 at 7:25 pm
                    It is highly rediclous .Once given shouldn't be taken back .And if taken back than shouldnt every caste be treated in the same way .Why should only jat suffer .???.
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                    1. D
                      dilip kumar
                      Mar 17, 2015 at 11:45 am
                      great decision by supreme court bt it should be invoke in complete rajasthan............
                      Reply
                      1. A
                        anshum
                        Mar 17, 2015 at 2:05 pm
                        Why does anyone need reservation at all? Those who come from a poor background should have their education sponsored by the government but why the need to lower the p percentage based on cast? If u r poor then let the state sponsor you financially. Why should a meritorious student from general category not get a seat/job whereas a SC/ST/OBC candidate gets d same with lesser marks or a lower performance level. This amazes me.
                        Reply
                        1. J
                          Java.id
                          Mar 17, 2015 at 3:15 pm
                          This is so unfair. If the Yaduvanshi royals and traditional Rajahs and Zamindars like the Yadavs can get reservations, if Dalit royals like the Maharajas of Gwalior and Baroda can be given reservations, why can't the Jats have it? They too had Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Maharaja Suraj Mal among their community!
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                            Ajith Kumar
                            Mar 17, 2015 at 12:15 pm
                            Why the Courts have NOT revoked the "Creamy Layer" set by the Govt.for eliminating the Rich from the beneficiaries of reservation the groups schedules as Backward.This is set at Rs.600,000. per year-sxcluding Agriculture income.Even large majority of those clified as Forward do not have this income.This is a mockery of the concept.The Rich and influential in the Groups give their children very advanced education and corner the seats in professional colleges claiming backwardness where as those who deserve such reservations fail to compete with the rich and get sidelined
                            Reply
                            1. K
                              kapyS
                              Mar 17, 2015 at 10:56 am
                              excellent decision.
                              Reply
                              1. P
                                Parmendra Panwar
                                Mar 17, 2015 at 1:22 pm
                                lot of community beside jats having great portion of creamy layer, but still enjoying pleasure of Quotas in employment , education etc why supreme court targets only Jats ? there also some religious bases minority, who also politically organized by big political party like SP,TMC, INC,NC etc all works only for that minority only just because of vote bank. why not SC says that Muslim minority shouldn't be in minority list. every one know that Jats works as a peasants , don't have luxury like others. farming fields became small and small as times goes and potion increases.. then jats also should have right to grow up from peasant cl , government gives benefit to lot of other communities to motivate to main stream. why not Jats have right to join main stream, up-to when they stick to peasantry.
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                                  Raja
                                  Mar 17, 2015 at 11:28 pm
                                  Kudos to the apex court for the exemplary decision! There is enough evidence to believe that the Jats belong to the upper echelons of the society. They even competed with the British during the eighteenth/nineteenth century in their quest for power, land and money. In fact they emplo the same type of aggression to bulldoze the government into submission. During the hearing on the merits of the Mandal commission in early 1990’s, Justice Kuldeep Singh (in his minority decision) alerted his fellow judges on the possible fallout of the ill-conceived quota system. Alas, nobody cared. Backwardness, if at all, is an attribute of an individual, not a community. Look at the luxurious lives of Ramvilas Paswan and his sons!
                                  Reply
                                  1. V
                                    Vijay Kumar
                                    Mar 17, 2015 at 3:17 pm
                                    Great Decision by SC
                                    Reply
                                    1. V
                                      Vijay Kumar
                                      Mar 17, 2015 at 3:18 pm
                                      Thank God, Supreme Court is not sleeping in India.
                                      Reply
                                      1. R
                                        Ramamurthy Murthy
                                        Mar 17, 2015 at 11:39 am
                                        A good judgement by the Apex court. Reservation policy of the all States should be reexamined and proper decision should be taken. Some states like Maharastra and Tamil Nadu have gone upto 70% in reservation. One more area,which needs the attention of Apex court is subsidies by the centre and states. ex. subsidy by Delhi government on electricity and water. Rice at the rate of Rs.1 by Tamil nadu,Andhra Pradesh , Telangana and some other states like MP & Maharastra,while the open market the cost of Rice varies from Rs.60 to 70/ for the same.
                                        Reply
                                        1. R
                                          ram
                                          Mar 17, 2015 at 4:31 pm
                                          it is unjust and unfair to decide case on without understanding ground reality ....... injustice.......justice.......justice.......justice.......justice.......justice.......justice.......justice.......justice.......justice........
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                                            raman nair
                                            Mar 17, 2015 at 10:50 am
                                            There should be reservation for nairs in kerala also
                                            Reply
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