HT Explainer: Flawed justification may spell doom for Jat quota legislation | india | Hindustan Times
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HT Explainer: Flawed justification may spell doom for Jat quota legislation

Haryana chief minister, Manohar Lal Khattar looked upbeat on Tuesday as he patted his government for bringing a bill in the state assembly to provide reservation to Jats and five other castes. Khattar was also quick to blame the previous Congress regime led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda for not giving statutory backing to Jat reservation, thus failing to provide legally tenable quota to Jats and four other castes.

india Updated: Mar 30, 2016 12:49 IST
Hitender Rao
Jat leaders offering sweets to Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar.
Jat leaders offering sweets to Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar.(Keshav Singh/HT Photo)

Haryana chief minister, Manohar Lal Khattar looked upbeat on Tuesday as he patted his government for bringing a bill in the state assembly to provide reservation to Jats and five other castes. Khattar was also quick to blame the previous Congress regime led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda for not giving statutory backing to Jat reservation, thus failing to provide legally tenable quota to Jats and four other castes.

His elation however could be short-lived as the justification taken by his government for providing reservation to Jats, Jat Sikhs, Bishnois, Tyagis, Rors and Mulla Jats under the Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Bill, 2016, looks patently flawed, and is thus on a weak legal wicket.

Reliance on justice KC Gupta commission

The Khattar regime has primarily relied on the recommendations of the re-constituted Haryana Backward Classes Commission (HBCC) of 2011 headed by justice KC Gupta (retd) to make out a case for grant of quota to Jats and five other castes. However, the Supreme Court in its March 17, 2015, order — by which it set aside the inclusion of Jats in the central list of other backward classes (OBCs) — had trashed the recommendations of the commission.

“The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) found that the report of justice KC Gupta commission was the primary document pertaining to Haryana. The NCBC found certain inherent flaws in the report which, in its view, made it unworthy of acceptance,’’ the apex court said.

NCBC trashed commission report

Even the NCBC in its advice to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre said the biggest flaw in the justice KC Gupta commission report was that the study conducted by the Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU), Rohtak, on which the report was primarily based, was selective in nature.

The NCBC also said that the HBCC did not follow one of the cardinal principles of natural justice, as two of its members — Jai Singh Bishnoi and Som Dutt, a Ror — had interests in the outcome of the case since both the castes were under consideration. “A man shall not be judge in his case,” the central panel said.

The central panel said while highlighting the fact that Jats were not proportionately represented in government jobs, the MDU survey forgot to study the representation of Jats in armed forces. “What has been studied only is their representation in direct civil and allied services and Classes 1 to 4 government services,” it said.

“It is well known that Jats — both Sikhs and Hindus — were among the communities well represented in the armed forces, including the officer category. One would have expected justice KC Gupta commission that has given 37 tables besides the annexure, to give statistics of representation of different communities in the armed forces, particularly in the officer category.

Its omission cannot be rationally explained and it can be presumed that had those statistics been provided, the case of Jats of Haryana for inclusion in the list of backward classes would have completely fallen flat,” the NCBC said.

The commission also recorded its disagreement with the views of the justice KC Gupta commission that despite there being 26 (out of 90) MLAs belonging to Jat community and four members of Parliament (out of 15), the Jats have not progressed socially, educationally and economically. In this regard, the NCBC had also recorded that in the course of public hearing, it transpired that several chief ministers of Haryana, who held office for long periods of time, belonged to Jat community.

Justice Gurnam Singh commission

While the Jat quota bill passed by the Haryana assembly on Tuesday also placed some reliance on recommendations of Justice Gurnam Singh Backward Classes Commission of 1990 for justifying Jat reservation, the NCBC did not find the report appropriate for consideration.

While quoting NCBC findings, the Supreme Court in its March 2015 order said the justice Gurnam Singh commission report being of 1990 and having been earlier taken into account by the NCBC on November 28, 1997, was not appropriate to be considered again.

Although, the state government in April 1991 had included Jat, Jat Sikh, Bishnoi, Ror and Tyagi castes in the list of backward classes on the recommendation of the commission, the decision was withdrawn five months later.