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Setback for Yogi govt as court stays move to include 17 OBCs in SC list

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Lucknow, Sep 16: In a setback to the Yogi Adityanath government, the Allahabad High Court on Monday stayed the government's decision to include 17 Other Backward Castes (OBC) in the Scheduled Castes (SC) list.

The government's move, aimed at wooing the communities ahead of by-elections to 12 Assembly seats, came in June this year.

Yogi Adityanath

On June 24, the government had directed district magistrates and commissioners to issue caste certificates to 17 OBCs - Kashyap, Rajbhar, Dhivar, Bind, Kumhar, Kahar, Kewat, Nishad, Bhar, Mallah, Prajapati, Dhimar, Batham, Turha, Godia, Manjhi and Machua.

A directive issued by the the UP administration said caste certificates will be issued after thorough verification, a move that could steal the opposition's thunder, especially of the SP and the BSP which have tried to sympathise with these 17 Most Backward Classes (MBC) in the past by attempting to bring them in the SC bracket.

BSP chief Mayawati had also slammed the move as "unconstitutional" and called it "politically motivated".

"No government can include or remove any caste from the Scheduled Caste list. Article 341 prevents a government from doing so. Only the President and Parliament have the powers to do so," she had said.

"Part 1 of Article 341 clearly states that the President can specify any group to the SC list through a public notification on the Governor's advice. Part 2 says that if a notification is released under part 1 of Article 341, it can only be changed by Parliament. Part 2 also states that Parliament can specify, include or exclude any group from the SC list," she had explained.

The decision had been criticised even by the BJP-led central government, with Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot telling the Rajya Sabha on July 2 that the move was not in accordance with the Constitution.

The Adityanath government had been trying to put the 17 other backward castes in the SC list for a long time. The reason given was that these castes figured very low on the social and economic indices.

Being in the other backward class category had not improved their standard of living and the objective was to bring them under the SC list.

Earlier attempts

Earlier, then SP and BSP governments too had made efforts in this regard, but did not succeed.

It was in 2005 that the issue was raised for the first time when the then Mulayam Singh Yadav government had issued an order to this effect.

It was seen as the SP stalwart's ploy to win over the 17 MBCs who felt left out and neglected in the backward quota as the pie went to the creamy layer of the dominant Yadav, Kurmi and Lodhis in government schemes and programmes, as well as admission in educational institutions.

But, the order ran into rough weather when the high court stayed it following which the proposal was sent to the Centre.

Two years later, when Mayawati came to power, she rejected the proposal but later wrote to the Centre extending her support.

The Akhilesh Yadav government revived the move again in December 2016 and the proposal was cleared by the state cabinet ahead of the UP Assembly elections.

A formal request to include these 17 castes was sent to the Centre, but the matter somehow got stuck with the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

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