OBCs in Schedule Caste list: Through the Constitutional Prism

moderator
By moderator July 9, 2019 13:44

Why in news?

A recent move by Uttar Pradesh govt to relist 17 OBC (Other Backward Class) in the Schedule Caste list, triggered a political controversy. The decision by State government is considered as ‘Unconstitutional’ after it has directed all districts to issue caste certificates to these castes subjects.

Background

  • The first attempt was made in 2004, by the Samajwadi Party regime when it brought a resolution.
  • The then SP government amended the U.P. Public Services Act, 1994, to include as many as 17 OBC communities in the SC category. The decision by state govt has taken without the Centre’s consent proved futile.
  • In 2005 the Registrar General of India rejected UP’s proposal to move 17 OBC castes in SC list contending that the caste did not pass the test of “untouchability” that is indispensable for a community to be declared as SC.
  • Another attempt was made in 2012, when again Samajwadi Party came to power and a high-level committee, headed by Jawed Usmani, spoke about the government’s priorities, including the inclusion of as many as 17 OBC sub-castes within the SC category. The matter, however, was rejected by the Centre.
  • So far, six Presidential Orders have been issued between 1950 and 1978 for specifying SC in respect of various States/Union territories.
  • These Orders have been amended from time to time by Acts of Parliament enacted as per Article 341(2) of the Constitution between 1956 and 2016

What does the rule say?

  • Under Article 341 sub-clause (2) of the Constitution, any subsequent inclusion in or exclusion from the list of Scheduled Castes can be effected through an Act of Parliament.
  • According to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment the criteria of inclusion of any caste in schedule caste: Extreme social, educational and economic backwardness arising out of the traditional practice of untouchability
  • Government has laid down Modalities in, 1999, as amended in 2002 for processing of modifications in the lists of SCs. It envisages that only such proposals of the concerned State Governments/ Union Territory Administrations, which have been agreed to by the Registrar General of India (RGI)
 
Arguments in criticism Arguments for
·        Castes did not pass the test of “untouchability” as a criterion by RGI

·        Constitution prevents the States from having such powers

·        Such castes may not enjoy the benefits of OBC as they won’t be counted in the category after the order

·         The Quota actually has created a “new class of vested interest” in society.

·        The policy of quota in jobs is violating the efficiency and merit system of recruitment.

·        Quota will further give rise to the politics of casteism in Indian political system

·        15% for SC in educational institutions

·        Constitution of In gives directives to State to take special care for protecting the interests of the weaker sections of the society.

·        Preamble to the Constitution of India aims to secure Justice-Social, Economic and Political among all its citizens.

·        Weaker sections of the society, like STs, SCs and Dalit’s have been the victims of exploitation for many centuries.

·         Empowerment of the weaker sections in the society will be possible through the reservation

 

 

In recent years states that have proposed caste for inclusion in SC list to center

State No. of proposals for inclusion in SC
Bihar 2
Chhattisgarh 2
Haryana 2
Karnataka 1
Kerala 1
Maharashtra 1
Odisha 1
Uttar Pradesh 1
West Bengal 1
Total 12

 

Way forward

  • No doubt, these 17 castes comprise the most disadvantaged among the backward classes. Categorizing the backward classes into two or three sections has been seen as one way to apportion the benefits of reservation among many social groups.
  • Treating them as Scheduled Castes is beset with problems. For one thing, they may not qualify to be treated as SCs because they may not have suffered untouchability and social discrimination.
  • In a bid to improve their overall condition, the move must follow the proper legal process.

 

moderator
By moderator July 9, 2019 13:44