The Gujarat High Court admitted a PIL seeking conduct of a periodic review to identify castes for OBC quota and for declaring as unconstitutional the 1993 notification of the state government which had included 39 castes under OBC list.
The Gujarat High Court today admitted a PIL seeking conduct of a periodic review to identify castes for OBC quota and for declaring as unconstitutional the 1993 notification of the state government which had included 39 castes under OBC list.
Admitting the PIL, a division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi asked the central and state governments, and the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) to file their reply in next hearing, date for which is not fixed yet.
The PIL, filed by one Prashant Patel, contended that Union and state governments have not conducted the decadal periodic revision of OBC list required as per the Supreme Court’s order in Indra Sawhney case in 1992, and do not have quantifiable data to determine castes to be included in the list.
In its judgement in Sawhney case, the Supreme Court had upheld the Mandal Commission’s 27 per cent quota for backward classes, as well as the principle that the combined SC, ST and backward-class beneficiaries should not exceed 50 per cent of country’s population.
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Patel’s PIL comes at a time when the Patidar community is agitating for its inclusion in the OBC list for reservation in government jobs and education.
“Successive governments have included various castes in the schedule without making any empirical study and that too for political consideration, and no periodic revision has been done as per section 11 of NCBC Act, 1993,” it said.
“On the contrary, not a single caste has been excluded from the OBC list…Till date no steps have been taken for exclusion of affluent castes from the OBC schedule. However, governments, political parties have been encouraging inclusion of more and more castes/tribes in the schedule list instead of excluding the advanced castes/tribes,” the PIL stated.
It also challenged the constitutional validity of the state government notification dated July 25, 1993 through which 39 castes were included in the OBC list based on a data collected through a survey conducted in old Saurashtra state in 1953.
The PIL said the inclusion of 39 castes was made without referring to the Other Backward Class Commission, formed in the state in 1992 on the directions of the apex court for making recommendations on inclusion and exclusion of castes, and hence the list is unconstitutional as per the Supreme Court’s 1992 order in the Indra Sawhney case.
The PIL also sought direction from HC for collection of the quantifiable data to determine the exclusion and inclusion of castes in the OBC list, and asking respondents to follow the proper procedure for inclusion of castes in OBC list.