Jat reservation: legally untenable

Jat agitationHaryana is burning again. The powerful Jat community’s agitation for reservation continues to torment not just the Haryana government but the Central government as well as the issue of reservation will have wider ramifications, both politically and socially. It has the potential to give a fresh lease of life to the reservation row that engulfed the nation during 1989-90 following the decision of VP Singh government on the controversial Mandal Commission recommendations.

Many still feel that the demand by Jats is legally untenable as the Supreme Court has struck it down in March last year saying that Jats are cannot be bracketed as ‘backward community’ and did not  need the benefits. It has also rejected a review petition by NDA government later on July 22. A poll-eve promise by UPA government providing 10 percent reservation under EBC failed to click at that time.

The Punjab and Haryana High court too rejected the decision of Congress government’s decision on benefits to Jats. The Bhoopinder Singh Hooda- led government in 2014- had accepted the report of Haryana Backward Classes Commission (HBCC) headed by Justice KC Gupta-  and provided 10 per cent reservation under SBC (Special Backward Communities) category to Jats as well as four other castes- Sikhs, Ror, Tyagi and Bishnois. This was set aside by the Punjab and Haryana High Court  following apex court’s verdict .

The Jats have also rejected the Hooda plan. They are demanding a caste-based reservation and are unwilling to share their quota with any other caste.

More so, the 10 per cent reservation goes against the spirit of Supreme Court verdict of capping reservations to 50%.

Haryana already provides 20 per cent quota in jobs for Scheduled castes, 27 per cent to backward classes and now with 10 per cent additional quota, the reservation per centage will reach 57 per cent.

This would flout a 1992 SC order in the Indra Sawhney case that quota benefits should not take up more than 50% of available jobs and college seats.

While quashing a decision on the Jat reservation, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court on March 17 last year has ruled that “caste” and “historical injustice” cannot blind a state in according backward status to a community and that new emerging groups such as transgenders must be identified for quota benefits. It vehemently opposed reservation on political considerations.

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