In what may be music to the UPA government’s ears, the Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to stay the inclusion of ‘Jats’ in the central list of Other Backward Classes (OBC) category in eight states and Delhi, observing that the Centre had sufficient material to take such a decision even on the eve of polls.
The apex court, however, said that all appointments and admissions made under the reservation would be subject to its final order. The decision by the UPA-II government to give benefit of reservation to ‘Jats’ was seen as a major election gambit just before the elections as the community had a strong social and political base in western Uttar Pradesh and its bordering areas of Uttarakhand, Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan.
Taking up a petition against the move, a bench presided over by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that the court was prima facie satisfied that the government had material to rely upon for inclusion of Jats in the OBC category.
“We have gone through the documents produced by them. We cannot say that the government had no material. They have sufficient material, in fact. Prima facie there are materials to make this decision,” the bench said.
The court brushed aside an argument made by senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the petitioner, raising a question mark over the government including ‘Jats’ in the OBC list merely a day before the model code of conduct was to be enforced in view of the general elections.
“The government is a government. We can’t say, you cannot do it only because one day is left for the model code of conduct. If they want to take a decision, they are certainly entitled to do so even till one day before,” the bench also comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana, said.
The court also said that it could not stay at this stage the decision merely because the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) had recommended against the inclusion of Jats.
“After all, the government is government and these institutions are to aid and advise them,” it added. The court, however, asked the government to file a comprehensive stand within three weeks, stating the rationale of the decision.
While admitting a bunch of other petitions, the court listed those for hearing on May 1.
The court had on April 1 asked the government to produce the original records with regard to the March 4 decision, acting on a petition filed by OBC Reservation Raksha Samiti, an organisation of members of communities that are included in the Central List of Backward Classes.