LUCKNOW: In a major setback to the state government, the Allahabad High Court stayed its order by which the Yogi Adityanath government had initiated the process to include 17 most backward classes in list of Scheduled Castes.
The High Court stayed the state government order issued on June 24, 2019 while hearing a plea of social activist Gorakh Prasad who had claimed in his petition that the GO was illegal.
Hearing the matter, Allahabad High Court’s double judge division bench, comprising Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice Rajeev Mishra, passed the order pushing the Yogi government a few steps back in its preparation for upcoming bypoll to 12 assembly seats in the state.
The judges directed the principal secretary, social welfare department, Manoj Kumar Singh to file an affidavit in the court in this connection.
The High Court observed that in such matters, neither the Central nor State Governments were entitled to make changes in the existing Scheduled Caste list. It was the prerogative of the Parliament only to make changes in the existing lists of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, said the Court while passing the
The Yogi Adityanath government, through an order dated June 24, 2019, had directed all the district magistrates to issue SC certificates to the members belonging to 17 Most Backward Classes (MBCs) in compliance with the interim order of the High Court dated March 29, 2017.
The 17 MB castes include Nishad, Kevat, Kashyap, Rajbhar, Divar, Kahaar, Bhar, Tura, Godia, Kumhaar, Machhua, Batham, Prajapati, Mallah, Manjhi and Bind.
Though, there is no accurate data available related to their number as there is no caste census done but the MBCs together make up for nearly 14 per cent of the UP’s electorate.
The inclusion of MBCs in Scheduled Caste category would have enabled them to avail quota benefits meant for Dalits which is considered lesser competitive than OBCs. Even the cut-off marks in competitive exams are lower for the SC category than the OBCs. Moreover, the Dalits also get fee relaxation in educational and vocation institutions which is not so for the OBCs.
At present, UP has 66 castes notified as scheduled castes and if the process of inclusion of 17 more gets through, the state will have 83 notified scheduled castes.
While issuing the order, the state government came under fire from various quarters including the union social welfare minister.
However, state authorities concerned had claimed that the changes were effected by the state governor using his powers under Rule 13 of UP Public Service Act-1994.