In a notable judgment, a bench of two of the sharpest Supreme Court Judges; Justice Nariman and Justice Gogoi declined to accept that the Jat community can be given a backward status. Right before the epic 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the UPA government had notified reservation to jats as in the Central list of Backward Classes for 9 states on 04/03/2014, namely Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, NCT of Delhi, Bharatpur and Dholpur districts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The said notification was crafted even after strong de-recommendation by the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC). The then ruling establishment had to face stiff criticism for providing the reservation allegedly to gain vote bank of the community. The NDA government had accepted the notification and agreed to contest the challenge in court.
The detailed judgment authored by Justice Gogoi took into consideration provisions of the NCBC Act, 1993, NCBC Rules, 2011 & Articles 15, 16(4), 29(2), 38, 46 and 340 of the constitution along with reliance on the landmark judgment in Indra Sawhney’s case. The judgment quotes state specific reports submitted, recommendations recorded and averments furthered by NCBC and sub constituted expert committees.
The bench after detailed and thorough analysis of key aspects negated the submissions made by the Attorney General and Jayant Bhushan and Mohan Parasaran for Jat associations. In para 54 and 55, in a nutshell the reasoning has been recorded. The bench held that self proclamation and claim of a community of backwardness based on perception of advancement of other classes to seek protection as less fortunate is not constitutionally permissible. It also noted that no mathematical formula can be devised for grant of backward status but a lot of socio economic aspects have to be considered. Judging by all standards, the Court concluded that inclusion of politically organized classes like Jats cannot be affirmed. The Judgment also strengthens recommending and binding powers of NCBC in such matters.
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Read the Judgment here