The beleaguered Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) led NDA government at the Centre is looking to work out the Jat quota issue through a private member’s Bill introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) Act, 1993. The Bill moved by BJP MP from Pali (Rajasthan), PP Chaudhary in December 2015 proposes to do away with statutory requirement of consulting the NCBC for declaring a community or class of citizens as backward if a community or class of citizens has already been declared as backward by the appropriate government.
The BJP governments, both at the Centre and in Haryana are in a quandary over the Jat reservation issue ever since the Supreme Court in March 2015 set aside the grant of reservation under other backward classes (OBC) to Jats of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Bharatpur and Dholpur districts of Rajasthan. The Punjab and Haryana High Court also in July 27, 2015 stayed the 10 % Special Backward Classes quota under which Jats were granted reservation in Haryana.
The existing law
Section 9 of the NCBC Act say the Commission shall examine requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists and tender such advice to the Central government as it deems appropriate. The advice of the Commission shall ordinarily be binding upon the Central government.
The proposed amendment
The amendment private member’s Bill introduced in the Lok Sabha says the recommendations of the Commission shall ordinarily be binding upon the Central government provided. However, it shall not be necessary to consult the Commission if a community/class of citizens has already been declared as backward by the appropriate government and the Central or state government may declare such declared community/class of citizen as backward and include it in its list of backward classes which in the opinion of the appropriate government is not adequately represented in the services under it for the purpose of Article 16(4) of the Constitution. The amendment Bill says the appropriate government may also make provisions for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes or for the admission of socially and educationally backward classes to educational institutions in line with existing limitations without necessarily consulting the Commission if the Central or state government has already included the group of citizens in its list of Backward Classes in line with Article 15(4) and (5) of the Constitution.
“If a state government agrees to give reservation to a particular caste in the state after examining its case, then quota to that caste should also be given in central government jobs. The private member’s Bill moved by me has been introduced in Lok Sabha and will come up for discussion,’’ said Chaudhary who has been roped by Jat representatives to give suggestions on the proposed quota Bill to be brought in Haryana assembly in the ongoing session.
Lack of justification
However, the draft quota Bill being prepared by Haryana government also seems to be a weak footing as there is a lack of justification to provide reservation to Jats. The Supreme court has trashed the recommendations of Haryana Backward Classes Commission headed by Justice KC Gupta (retd) and the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) had rejected the demand to include the Jats in the OBC central list.
Amendment in Constitution
The BJP MP has also moved two more private member’s Bills seeking amendment in the Constitution, primarily to aid the proposed amendments in the NCBC Act. The first Constitution amendment Bill proposes to amend Article 16 (4) to allow state government to make reservation provisions only for the socially and educationally backward class of citizens instead of the existing backward class of citizens.
The second Constitution amendment Bill proposes to amend Article 340 to empower NCBC to look into the grievances of the other backward classes as has been done for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes by empowering National Commission for the Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. The proposed Bill also seeks spelling out the scope and constitutional limitations of the NCBC.