The Commission to examine the sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBC), headed by the former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court G Rohini, has sought a third extension till November 2018 for submission of its politically crucial report on creating quotas within quotas.
Confirming the development, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot told The Indian Express, “The Commission has asked for four months’ time stating that it needs time to compile more data. Their extension would have to be approved by the Cabinet.”
The five-member panel, constituted in October 2017, was to complete its task of sub-categorising 5000-odd castes in the central OBC list so as to ensure “more equitable distribution” of opportunities in central government jobs and educational institutions. Its report was to be submitted within three months. Since then, it has sought and was granted extensions twice citing the ‘voluminous’ nature of its task. As per the ‘final extension’ granted by the Cabinet, its report was to be submitted on July 31, 2018.
The Commission was set up under Article 340 of the Constitution that was used to establish the landmark Mandal Commission more than two decades ago which recommended 27 per cent reservation for socially and educationally backward classes in higher education and government jobs. Over the years, with the benefits of this reservation being cornered mostly by the dominant OBC groups, the sub-categorisation panel report is expected to recommend earmarking sub-quotas for the extremely backward classes within the OBCs.
The report would be politically instrumental in the BJP’s attempt to undermine regional parties by reaching out to the non-dominant OBCs, more so in the run up to the 2019 general elections. The National Commission for Backward Classes had in 2015 noted that “unequals cannot be treated equally” and recommended that OBCs be categorised into extremely backward classes, more backward classes and backward classes.
“At present, eleven states have sub-categorised OBCs for their state services. We have to devise a similar methodology for the central OBC list. We have already called for data on five lakh-odd OBCs in central government jobs as part of this process,” said officials.