The commission to examine the sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBC) has based its recommendations on quota within quota on the population figures from the 1931 Census, and not on the more recent Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011.
The Indian Express reported on Thursday that the commission, headed by Justice G Rohini, is set to recommend a fixed quota of between 8 to 10 per cent within the 27 percent OBC quota for 1900-odd castes from among the 2,633 central list of OBCs.
As per five-year data collated by the commission on the share of benefits accrued to the many communities in Central government jobs and higher education institutions, half of these 1900-castes have not availed the benefits of reservation at all, and the other half include those that have availed less than 3 per cent share in the OBC quota.
According to sources, the 8 to 10 per cent fixed quota has been decided upon, based on the total population of these groups as per the 1931 census.
“As the Commission has decided it will only to base the sub-categorisation on relative benefits and not on social backwardness, these castes should be able to avail of their fair share of the quota. For this purpose, the commission has used the last available census data on caste from 1931,” said sources.
The Mandal Commission report, which was tabled in Parliament by the V P Singh government in 1990, also used the 1931 census for OBC population figures. However, currently there is more recent data available in the form of SECC data of 2011.
While the rural and urban data from the SECC was released by the Modi government one after the other, the government has not made the detailed caste data public till date. Several political groups have demanded the release of the SECC caste data to bolster their argument in favour of expanding the OBC quota in proportion to their total population.
The 1931 census by the British government had pegged the OBC population at 52 per cent. However, in view of the Supreme Court order on capping the total quota at 50 per cent of the population, the OBC quota was kept at 27 per cent.
While welcoming the fixed 8-10 per cent quota within OBC, Justice (Retd) Eswaraiah, former chairperson of the National Commission for Backward Classes, pointed out that since the implementation of the Mandal Commission report in 1993, over 500 new castes have been added to the Central list of OBCs.
“The 1931 Census does not have the population for these new additions. It also does not have population of princely states that were not ruled by the British. What is the sanctity of such an outdated and irrelevant data? The 2011 SECC data has the exact details on every caste and several Supreme Court orders have stressed on the need to rely upon contemporaneous material,” he said.
He added that when the representation numbers in jobs and education is based on recent five-year data, using more than eighty year old population data is a flawed methodology. He said, “The Registrar General of India is also a member in the Justice Rohini Commission and he has access to the SECC data. Why then was it not used?”
There was a renewed demand for release of the SECC caste data in the wake of the recent law passed to grant ten per cent reservation to economically weaker sections among the upper castes.
From RJD’s Tejaswai Yadav to Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale, leaders have demanded the release of the SECC caste data to back their demand for an increase in the reserved quota for SC, ST, and OBCs.