The Supreme Court today rejected a plea to stay Centre's poll-eve notification to include the Jat community in the OBC list for providing the benefits of reservation, saying there are prima facie material for taking the decision.
"On going through the document we are prima facie satisfied that it cannot be contended there is no material for taking the decision (to include Jats in OBC list)," a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said.
"Before expressing any opinion, for further consideration we direct the Centre to file counter-affidavit in three weeks," the bench also comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana said.
After posting the matter for next hearing on May 1, the bench said,"We are rejecting the request for stay."
Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for OBC Reservation Raksha Samiti - an organisation of members of Communities which are included in the Central List of Backward Classes, alleged that the March 4 notification was issued a day before the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) came into force and it was done by the party in power to garner votes.
However, the bench said it cannot come in the way of the government taking a decision a day before the MCC came into force.
"Government is a government. We can't say, you can't do. Till one day before (the MCC), they can take a decision," the bench said.
Venugopal submitted the party in power took the decision for private gain.
Pursuant to the court's April 1 order, the Centre today placed before the bench all materials/documents and files, including the decision of the Union Cabinet, on the issue of considering the inclusion of Jats in the OBC list.
The bench asked senior advocate K Parasaran, appearing for the Centre, that all the materials placed before it should be filed in the form of counter-affidavit.
"We want to know what is the basis for this order (for including Jats in OBC list)," the bench said.
Parasaran submitted that the reasons are there in the records.
On April 1, the apex court had asked the Centre why it allegedly ignored the advice of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) to keep the Jat community away from reservation benefits.
The court had also said that "the matter is serious" and had directed the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to place before it all the material, records and files pertaining to the decision, to see "whether there was application of mind or not" while issuing the March 4 notification.
The notification included Jat community in OBC list in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan (two districts of Bharatpur and Dholpur), Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
OBC Reservation Raksha Samiti in its plea had contended that as a result of the notification, Jats will be like a "creamy layer" in the OBC list and will take away the seats and posts in schools, colleges and government jobs from other community.
Besides the organisation, three other individuals from Delhi - Ram Singh, Ashok Kumar and Ashok Yadav - belonging to OBC category have also challenged the Centre's notification.
The petitioners, referring to several empirical studies and survey, have contended that Jat community being a socially forward caste will consume substantive portion of the quota of OBC reservation which will deprive the deserving people of other backward classes of the benefit of reservation.
They submitted that people of Jat community have performed much better than those of other castes and the number of those who have been selected in the prestigious civil services exam of UPSC is much higher than the number proportionate to their population.
They have sought a direction holding that Jat community is not a backward class and not entitled to be included in the list of OBC and annexed findings of the NCBC which in its February 26, 2014 report had rejected the Centre's request for recommending inclusion of Jat community in the central list of backward classes.