Centre defends benefit of reservation to Jats

Tells SC it can't remove them from central OBC list

The NDA government on Thursday told the Supreme Court that any move to overturn a decision taken by the UPA regime to include Jat community in the central list of Other Backward Classes (OBC) would be incongruous in terms of similar concession being provided to them in eight states and Delhi.

The Centre defended the March 4 notification, giving benefit of reservation to Jats. It claimed that the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) was not empowered to challenge a decision for inclusion of group in OBC category as the Centre derived its power under Article 16 (4) of the Constitution.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Union government, submitted before a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman that the NCBC had no power under the federal structure to sit over an appeal on the decision taken by the states and the Centre.

“The NCBC, created by virtue of Indira Sawhney (Mandal Commission judgment), has no role in finalising lists of OBCs or adding or subtracting any item. The mandate is only for the Centre to identify and the Centre can rely on the list prepared by state government based on different backwardness criteria, including education, vocation etc,” he said.

The submission by Rohatgi came in response to a bunch of PILs contending that the NCBC had recommended against including Jats in the OBC list. The decision was taken just to gain political mileage, the petitioners claimed.

The Jat community was included in the central list of OBC for the states of Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan (two districts of Bharatpur and Dholpur), Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.

“If it is said that the NCBC’s advise is binding, there would be dichotomy as the list of backward classes prepared by the states are implanted by the Centre,” the AG said, adding, “if the state government declares a particular group as backward what can the Centre do.”

The stand taken by the AG prompted the bench to make a remark in lighter vein, “the government may come and the government may go but Jat goes on forever.”

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