The controversial decision of UPA-II government ahead of general elections to include Jats in OBC category came under judicial scrutiny with the Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking explanation from the Centre for allegedly ignoring the advice of a statutory body to keep the community away from reservation benefits.
The apex court said “the matter is serious” and it would like to “peruse the files containing the materials to know whether there was application of mind or not” for coming out with the March 4 notification to include Jat community in the OBC list.
“The respondent (Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment) is directed to place entire material, records and files,” a bench comprising Chief Justice P Sathasivam and justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana said.
“We will examine the issue,” the bench said while issuing notice and sought response of the Centre on the two petitions challenging the notification to include Jats in the OBC list and posted the matter for hearing on April 9.
The court said it will consider the plea for stay of the notification after examining the materials and also sought the assistance of Attorney General G E Vahanvati. The notification included Jat community in OBC list in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan (two districts of Bharatpur and Dholpur), Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for OBC Reservation Raksha Samiti, an organisation of members of Communities which are included in the Central List of Backward Classes, alleged that it is an “outrageous notification” issued in haste with “vote bank” politics in mind.
“Before the election, a largesse is given by political party in power to purchase votes,” Venugopal submitted and elaborated how “illegal and arbitrarily” the Union government ignored National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) advice which is binding on it to include the Jats in the OBC list.
The senior advocate said Jats will be like a “creamy layer” in the OBC list and will take away the seats and posts in schools, colleges and government jobs from other community.
Besides the organisation of OBC, three other individuals from Delhi – Ram Singh, Ashok Kumar and Ashok Yadav – belonging to OBC category filed the petition challenging the Centre’s notification on the issue.
They referred to several empirical studies and survey and said Jat community being a socially forward caste will consume substantive portion of the quota of OBC reservation which will deprive the deserving people of other backward classes of the benefit of reservation.
The petitioners submitted that people of Jat community have performed much better than those of other castes and the number of those who have got selected for prestigious civil services examination of UPSC is much higher than the number proportionate to their population.
“In UPSC Civil Services examination of 2012, the number of people belonging to Jat caste selected is 30 out of total 998 candidates from all over India,” the petition claimed. Besides, the members of Jat Community have outstanding representation in politics, cinema, academics, administration, sports, judiciary, army and air force, the petition said.
“Therefore, it is apparent that Jat community is not such socially backward community which should be included in the Central list of Backward Classes and if it is so included it will defeat the entire purpose of reservation envisaged under the Constitution of India, as the inclusion of Jat in the list of OBC will make other backward classes, which deserve benefit of reservation, to compete with people of general class,” the petition said.
They have sought direction for holding that Jat community is not a backward class and not entitled to be included in the list of OBC and annexed the findings of the NCBC which in its February 26, 2014 report rejected the Centre’s request for recommending inclusion of Jat community in the central list of backward classes.
The petitioners alleged that ruling political parties with an intention to woo voters of a particular community decided to make efforts to get a favourable recommendation from the NCBC for inclusion of Jat community in the central list Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, NCT of Delhi, Rajasthan (two districts), Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
In furtherance of its intention, the Centre constituted a Group of Ministers to create grounds for interfering in the independent functioning of the NCBC and upon purported advice and recommendation of the GoM, it asked the NCBC to give favourable requisite recommendation for inclusion of Jat community in the central list, the petitions alleged.
The apex court asked the Centre to bring all relevant records to show there was proper consideration of NCBC report to reject its recommendation against inclusion of Jats as OBC.
The petitioners said despite NCBC decision to refuse to recommend inclusion of Jats in the Central List of Backward Classes for the state of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Bharatpur and Dholpur districts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh by its report in 1997 and for Delhi by its report in 2010, the Centre under a politically motivated action, framed absolutely illegal rules conferring power to NCBC to review its recommendation.