The government has put on hold a proposal to divide other backward classes (OBCs) into three sub-categories and accordingly divide 27% quota in jobs and education in proportion to their population.
The move indicates that the government is treading cautiously ahead of the upcoming polls in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, where caste factor plays an important role in deciding the outcome.
The National Commission of Backward Classes (NCBC) had put forward the recommendation in February 2015.
Government officials said the sub-categorisation will create complications as not enough data on OBC population was available for the exercise.
A senior official of social justice and empowerment ministry said the Commission is also not legally competent to advice on issues other than the inclusion of castes under the NCBC Act, 1993.
As per the proposal, the central list of OBCs would be divided into three groups — extremely backward classes, more backward classes and backward classes — and the 27% quota would be apportioned among them as per their population and degree of backwardness so as to ensure that better-off OBCs do not corner the rights and benefits meant for deserving people.
“The proposal has been considered in the ministry and it was concluded that sub-categorisation would create more complications. Also, the proposal would have to rely on the Socio-Economic Caste Census data, which is not available in a comprehensive manner,” the official said.
“Also, the Commission has proposed to carry out the exercise in association with ICSSR, which would be time-consuming. Further, in states, the sub-categorisation is of communities/castes and the NCBC report in this regard is incomplete,” he said.
At present, there is no classification in the central list as a result of which the advanced OBCs avail most of the benefits, member of NCBC, Ashok Kumar Saini, said.
“The majority judgement in the Indra Sawhney case has adverted to this aspect. According to justice Sawant, who delivered a concurrent but separate judgement, the absence of classification results in great injustice to the most deserving and really backward classes,” Saini said.
Some states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry, Karnataka, Haryana, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have, however, implemented sub-categorisation.
The Commission had also suggested that an expert body be commissioned to study the methodology and finalise the criteria and indicators.