The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the Centre’s poll-eve decision to extend reservation to Jats in jobs and education under the OBC category.
A bench headed by CJI P Sathasivam said it was “prima facie satisfied” with the Centre’s defence of its decision to include Jats in the central list of OBCs in nine states, but posted the matter for further hearing on May 1.
On March 4 — a day before the model code of conduct came into force — the government had through a notification included Jats in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan (Bharatpur and Dhaulpur districts), Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi in the central OBC list.
The move was seen as an attempt by the UPA to woo the community ahead of a tough election. Certain groups were critical of the Centre’s decision to ignore the report of the National Commission for Backward Classes, which said Jats were “not socially and educationally backward communities”.
Haryana, UP and Delhi — with sizeable Jat populations —go to polls on Thursday.
In its affidavit, the Centre said the NCBC “did not adequately take into account ground realities”. Instead, the government relied on the report of the Indian Council Of Social Science Research that said Jats lagged behind other backward communities in terms of school and educational standing.?
The ICSSR found that in nine states the Jat community has already been included on the OBC list in their respective states based on the recommendations made by the respective State Commissions.
“Jats in Haryana are a land owning community and while share in Class I & II Government service is closer to their population, they lag behind both in school and higher educational enrolment,” the affidavit said quoting the ICSSR report.
The report, which compared the present position of Jat community with regard to other backward communities, said in terms of school and educational standing, said Jats lag behind Gujars in Delhi region.
"Similarly, in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, in the enrollment in higher and technical education, Jats lag behind Ahris/Yadavs. In Himachal Pradesh , the State Commission has come to the conclusion that the Jat community is socially, educationally and economically backward and is fit for inclusion in the States list of OBC’s. In Rajasthan, too, as regards literacy rate, enrollment in graduation level courses and representation in Government Services, Jats lag behind," the affidavit said.
During the hearing, senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for OBC Reservation Raksha Samiti, alleged that the March 4 order came just a day before the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) came into force. Alleging it was done to garner votes, Venugopal sought direction to scrap the notification.
The bench, however, refused to accept the submission saying that the government was “entitled” to take it decision and the court cannot come its way.