M A I N   N E W S

Reply to SC daunting task for government
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, June 10
As the Centre prepares its reply to the Supreme Court on petitions against OBC quota in higher education institutions as stated by the Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, the three queries put to the government by the apex court might pose difficulties to it as the available data on OBC population was quite conflicting.

The three questions pertain to basis for fixation of 27 per cent reservation norms for OBC, rationale for determining who is OBC and modalities to implement the reservation policy. The government needs to answer these queries to stand judicial scrutiny. It might not be so simple an exercise on the face of wide difference in the OBC population figures available with the government, sources say.

The documents placed before the court in the course of the three writ petitions, including the one by doctors, challenging extension of OBC reservations to Central institutions like AIIMs, IITs, IIMs, might cause a problem for the government as it showed wide difference in the figures of government’s own committees and the Mandal Commission report, which formed the basis for 27 per cent reservation to OBC when the question of judicial scrutiny might come, they say.

Since the basic criteria for determining the OBC status is only caste system and there is no census on caste lines since the last done by British rulers in 1931, the Centre has no option but to rely on the data collected on the basis of different agencies reports.

As per the Kalekar Committee report of 1950, the total number of the OBCs had been “approximately” put at 1,200, which the Mandal Commission almost doubled to 2,200. But, after implementation of the commission report, different states had brought various castes under the OBC ambit and as a result their number now is 3,200.

The petitioners have said that an increase in the number castes brought on the OBC list was driven by vote bank politics which was evident from the fact that relatively economically better-off castes like Jats in Rajasthan and Vokkligas in Karnataka had been declared OBCs. The reasons for such inclusions was mainly because the Mandal Commission had only given three points for economic criteria and 12 points for social status of a particular caste to bring it under the OBC ambit.

The petitioners in their documents have quoted extensively from three different statistics of government agencies to show that Mandal Commission’s findings are not based on real available data on actual percentage of OBC population. The Mandal Commission had projected OBC population at 52 per cent, which the petitioners allege was based on “fictitious data” as it had not done any survey while the National Sample Survey (NSS) had quoted their population only 32 per cent in 1999-2000.


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