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SC quashes extension of OBC reservation to Jats, says community not backward

In a blow to the erstwhile UPA government, the Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside the notification to include Jats in the Central list of Other Backward Classes (OBC) for according benefits of reservation to them.

The judgement, reserved on December 17, 2014, was pronounced by a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman.

“We set aside the notification to implement Jats in the Central list of Other Backward Classes (OBC),” the bench said.

The bench also found fault with the Centre’s decision to overlook the findings of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), stating that Jats need not be included in the Central list of OBC as they don’t form socio-economic backward class.

“Caste, though a prominent factor, cannot be the sole factor of determining the backwardness of a class,” the bench said, while referring to the historic judgement rendered by a larger bench on the implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations on OBC reservations.

“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.

The bench also said the “possible wrong inclusion of a class in the past cannot be a basis for the further wrong inclusion.”

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”.

It also noted that the inclusion of politically organised class like Jat would adversely impact the welfare of the other backward classes.

“We can’t agree that politically organised Jats are backward class so as to be entitled to OBC reservation.”

The bench said though the Union of India is empowered under the constitutional scheme to provide reservation to a particular class but it cannot be permitted to do so on the basis of a decade-old-finding about the backwardness of a caste.

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