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SC directs Jharkhand to reconsider its order on OBC quota

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Aug 8 (UNI)The Supreme Court today directed the Jharkhand government to constitute an experts commission headed by a retired high court judge within three months and refer its resolution no.5800 dated Oct.10, 2002 for binding experts opinion on the issue of clubbing extremely backward classes and other backward classes for the purpose of giving reservations in admission to professional educational institutes in the state.

A bench comprising Justices A.R. Lakshmanan and Lokeshwar Singh Panta issued the directions while setting aside the state high court impugned judgment dated Aug. 16,2003 quashing the state government order providing in all 14 per cent reservation to the OBCs after clubbing the Extremely Backward Classes and Other Backward Classes instead of 27 per cent the two categories were getting jointly prior to the passing of the controversial resolution. The state of Jharkhand provides 73 per cent reservations to the SC/STs and OBCs.

The apex court while issuing the directions ruled that the state government order was violative of this court's directions issued in Mandal Commission's case in 1992 in which the top court had ruled that quota can not be altered without referring the issue to an committee of experts. In the present case the state government implemented its resolution without even seeking opinion of the Backward Castes Commission or the Special Commission.

The court while remitting the matter back to the state government observed,"As rightly pointed out by the learned senior counsel appearing for the appellants , the division bench failed to notice that the government did not provide any material on record which would have justified amaglamation of the two classes of people nor were any documents relevant materials or any reports produced to show a change in circumstances as was alleged by the government .

Before taking decision to amaglmate two classes , relevant factors were not taken into account.In fact the specific reservation for extremely backward classes had been granted on the recommendations of Mungeri Lal Commission constituted for the said purpose." " It is settled law that even the policy matters have to be tested at the touchstone of arbitrariness and that the present policy is discriminatory and arbitrary." the court noted.

The state high court had earlier permitted the state government to bring down the reservation from 73 per cent to 50 per cent.

The court finally concluded,"In our opinion ,the amalgamation of two classes of people for reservation would be unreasonable as two different classes are treated similarly which is in violation of the mandate of Article 14 of the Constitution of India and it is well settled that treating unequals as equals also violates Article 14 of the Constitution." UNI AKS/SC RP PM1838

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