The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought an explanation from the Centre over its poll-eve decision to include Jats in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category in nine states.
The decision by the UPA-II government was seen as an attempt to appease the community, which has strong social and political clout in western Uttar Pradesh and its bordering areas of Uttarakhand, Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan besides also being present in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
A Bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam issued a notice to the government and asked the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to place before it the entire records.
It said the “matter is serious”and that the court would like to “peruse the files containing the materials to know whether there was application of mind or not.”
The court said it will consider the plea for stay of the March 4 notification in this regard after examining the materials. It also sought the assistance of Attorney General G E Vahanvati and posted the matter for hearing on April 9.
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 was 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 contended the Union government had “illegally and arbitrarily” ignored National Commission for Backward Classes’ (NCBC) advice against inclusion of the Jat community in the OBC list.