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SC quashes extension of OBC reservation to Jats

New Delhi

17-March-2015

The Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed the March 4, 2014, notification by the then UPA government extending OBC reservation to Jats in nine states, ignoring the recommendation of the National Commission for Backward Classes to the contrary.

The decision was also endorsed by the Modi government, brushing aside the suggestion that it was rooted in electoral exigencies of the previous government.

An apex court bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said: "We cannot agree with the view taken by the union government that Jats in the nine states in question are a backward community so as to be entitled to inclusion in the Central List of Other Backward Classes."

"Inclusion of politically organised class such as Jats... can't be affirmed," said Justice Gogoi, pronouncing the judgment.

"Neither can any longer backwardness be a matter of determination on the basis of mathematical formulae evolved by taking into account social, economic and educational indicators", the court said, thrashing the cabinet decision to ignore the advice of the NCBC saying it was devoid of ground realities.

Determination of backwardness, the court said "must also cease to be relative; possible wrong inclusions cannot be the basis for further inclusions but the gates would be opened only to permit entry of the most distressed. Any other inclusion would be a serious abdication of the constitutional duty of the state".

Holding that the notification issued on March 4, 2014 was not justified, the court said: "The view taken by the NCBC to the contrary is adequately supported by good and acceptable reasons which furnished a sound and reasonable basis for further consequential action on the part of the union government."

"In the above situation, we cannot hold the notification dated 4.3.2014 to be justified," the court said.

"Accordingly... the aforesaid notification... including the Jats in the Central List of Other Backward Classes for the States of Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, NCT of Delhi, Bharatpur and Dholpur Districts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand is set aside and quashed."

The court decision quashing the notification came while deciding a batch of petitions challenging the March 4, 2014 notification.

Pointing out that the date on which the exercise of extending reservation is undertaken "has to be contemporaneous", the court said that most of the data, except in the case of Haryana, was at least a decade old.

"Outdated statistics cannot provide accurate parameters for measuring backwardness for the purpose of inclusion in the list of Other Backward Classes. This is because one may legitimately presume progressive advancement of all citizens on every front i.e. social, economic and education," the court said.

Any other view (not recognising the social, economic and education) would "amount to retrograde governance".

The court hauled up the decision as negative governance and said: "Yet, surprisingly the facts that stare at us indicate a governmental affirmation of such negative governance in as much as decade old decisions not to treat the Jats as backward, arrived at on due consideration of the existing ground realities, have been re-opened, inspite of perceptible all round development of the nation."

"This is the basic fallacy inherent in the impugned governmental decision that has been challenged in the present proceedings." - IANS