In a big blow to Uttar Pradesh government, the Allahabad High Court has put on hold its decision to of including 17 Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the Scheduled Caste (SC) list. Putting on hold the directive of Yogi Adityanath government, the court asked Principal Secretary Manoj Kumar Singh to file an affidavit.
The division bench of Justice Sudhir Aggarwal and Justice Rajiv Mishra said this while hearing a writ petition filed social worker Gorakh Prasad. The bench observed that the UP government was wrong while taking this decision as only the Parliament can change the castes of SCs and STs.
Central and state governments have no such right, the court added.
The UP government had issued a directive on June 24 to include 17 OBCs in the Scheduled Caste list. They are Nishad, Bind, Mallah, Kewat, Kashyap, Bhar, Dhivar, Batham, Machua, Prajapati, Rajbhar, Kahar, Kumhar, Dhimar, Manjhi, Turaha and Gaudia.
This move was seen as an attempt by the BJP-led UP government to provide these social and economically backward classes with the benefits of reservation after removing legal irritants that have stalled the issue in the past.
This, incidentally, was the third time that the UP government tried to include 17 OBC castes into the SC bracket. Previously, Samajwadi Party (SP) government had attempted to include the 17 castes into the SC category but failed to do so due to legal intervention.
The first attempt was made by the former chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav when it brought a resolution in 2004. The then SP government amended the UP Public Services Act, 1994, to include as many as 17 castes of OBCs into the SC category. Since the power to declare any caste as SC rests with the Centre, the then Uttar Pradesh government's decision taken without the Centre's consent, proved futile.
The Allahabad High Court later quashed the decision declaring the move unconstitutional and void.
Another attempt was made in 2012 when Akhilesh Yadav came to power and a high-level committee headed by the then Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani sought details from the department of social welfare in this regard.
The circular from the chief secretary on March 28, 2012, 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.
With Agency Inputs
SP chief Mayawati vehemently opposed the idea and demanded immediate withdrawal. The BSP president demanded that the state government immediately withdraw the "undemocratic order" and increase the SC quota to ensure that the category's interests were not harmed.