In an important verdict, the Allahabad High Court on Friday said reservations provided under Clause four of Article 16 of the Constitution should favour backward classes and not a particular caste.
Once a caste satisfies the criteria of backwardness, it becomes a backward class for the purposes of Article 16(4), a Division Bench comprising Justices Amitava Lala and Sanjay Mishra ruled.
The court said there is no religious restriction among backward classes. For instance, Banjara as defined in the Constitution was definitely made for all and not a particular religion, it said.
The judgment came in response to a writ petition filed by Moazzam Ali, who challenged the cancellation of his nomination to contest elections for the local village panchayat from a constituency reserved for people of backward classes.
Ali was a candidate under the scheduled category of Banjara and filed his nomination after obtaining the requisite certificate from the teshildar.
However, his nomination was cancelled by authorities on the plea that he was a Muslim and therefore his candidature as a Banjara cannot be accepted as they belong only to the Hindu community.
Allowing Ali's petition and quashing the rejection order, the court observed, "A caste is nothing but a social class—a socially homogeneous class. It is also an occupational grouping, with this difference that its membership is hereditary. One is born into it, its membership is involuntary."