Supreme Court: While hearing upon a challenge to the Gazette of India Notification No. 63 dated 04.03.2014 which added the Jat community to the Central List of Other Backward Classes for the States of Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, NCT of Delhi, Bharatpur and Dholpur districts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the Bench of Ranjan Gogoi and R.F. Nariman, JJ., held that Jats are not a backward community to be listed under the Central List of OBCs, thereby quashing the impugned Notification.

As per the facts, the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) which was given the task of studying the requests of the Jat community to be included in the Central List for Backward Classes had recommended the inclusion of Jats of Rajasthan, except the Bharatpur and Dhaulpur districts. The NCBC after a series of researches and public hearings, had reasoned that merely being an agricultural community the Jats do not fall under the criteria for inclusion in the Central List of OBCs. However, the former UPA government did not accept the findings of the NCBC and issued the impugned Notification. Rakesh Kumar for the petitioner argued upon the legal malice present in the decision making process of the Union Government so to gain electoral advantage. The Court observed that Union of India did not have the backing of any quantifiable data before reaching the decision.   

The Court delved into Articles 15, 16, 38, 46, 340, of the Constitution and the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 highlighting the prohibition on discrimination on basis of caste and power of the State to make provisions for the empowerment of the backward communities. The Court further observed the researches and surveys conducted by the NCBC in the 9 States having Jat population. In course of the research, it was found that the Jats are neither socially nor educationally backward. The NCBC further suggested the need for a non-caste based identification of backward castes. Relying upon the criteria stated in Indra Sawhney v. Union of India, 1992 Supp (3) SCC 210, the Court further observed that backwardness cannot be a matter to be determined on basis of a mathematical formula based on economic and educational indicators, thus new yardsticks are to be developed. It was also observed that though caste may be a prominent and distinguishing factor for easy determination of backwardness of a social group, this practice should be discouraged for the identification of a group as backward solely on the basis of caste. The Court took the stand that outdated statistics cannot provide accurate parameters for measuring backwardness for the purpose of inclusion in the list of Other Backward Classes. Ram Singh v. Union of India2015 SCC OnLine SC 226decided on 17.03.2015

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