With just a month and eight days left for the Haryana Backward Classes Commission to complete its report on the extent of reservation to be given to Jats and five other communities under the 2016 Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admissions in Educational Institutions) Act, the legal fight against it has reached the courts again with petitioners seeking a stay on the entire exercise ordered by the High Court last year.
Two review petitions against the 2017 High Court judgment, which upheld the law, have been filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court and will come up for hearing on March 09. Supreme Court also on Friday heard the same matter and issued notice to the state government on the Special Leave Petition challenging the same judgment.
The act provides for 10 per cent reservation in government jobs and institutes of higher education to Jats and Jat Sikhs, Rors, Bishnois, Tyagis and Muslim Jats in the state. While upholding the law on reservation to the communities, a division bench of the High Court had kept the benefits for the communities under abeyance and left it to the state’s Backward Classes Commission to determine if the overall 50 per cent limit on reservation in the state can be breached.
“We had not challenged the full Act but only the reservation to these six castes. The division bench in its judgment did not consider that and also went ahead with ordering that the extent of reservation should be determined. It overlooked the fact that the backwardness of the castes was never determined,” said advocate Mukesh Kumar Verma, who represents Murari Lal Gupta in the review petition. Yadav Kalyan Sabha has also filed a review petition in the High Court against the judgment.
The 2016 legislation was passed by the BJP government in Haryana, a month after the violent February 2016 Jat agitation in which 30 people lost their lives and divided the state along Jat and non-Jat lines. The reservation benefits brought in by the Act are under stay since 2016 because of the pending litigations.
The High Court in the judgment asked the Commission to prepare a report on the extent of reservation by March 31, 2018 after examining the “quantifiable data” for determination of the extent and then submit the report to government.
“By way of PILs, the very enactment of the 2016 Act is sought to be assailed and got invalidated on the ground that necessary identification of the castes that have been given the benefit of reservations have not been carried out. However, this can well be carried out at this stage as well without the need to invalidate the legislation. A legislative Act of the legislature is not to be invalidated on the mere asking,” the High Court said.
All the petitioners, both before the Supreme Court and the High Court, have sought an interim stay on the exercise being carried out by the Commission to determine the extent of the reservation. The case in the Supreme Court is also listed for hearing in March.