SC notice to Kerala govt, Centre over OBC reservation list
The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Kerala government, the Kerala State Commission for Backward Classes (KSCBC) and the Union government in a contempt petition
The Supreme Court issued notice to the Kerala government, the Kerala State Commission for Backward Classes (KSCBC) and the union government in a contempt petition, which alleges that they have not complied with the Kerala High Court order to conduct a socio-economic study for revising the reservation list for the socially and educationally backward classes in the state.
A three-judge bench comprising Justices BR Gavai, PS Narasimha and Prashant Kumar Mishra was considering a petition which alleged that due to non-revision of the list, the Muslim community, SC/ST, and 70 other backward classes were grossly under-represented in the Kerala Public Services. The petition was filed by an organisation named "Minority Indians Planning and Vigilance Commission Trust".
In September 2020, Kerala High Court had passed a direction to the had directed the union government to take necessary steps for the finalisation of the report of the socio-economic study taking into account all parameters required for the identification of socially and educationally backward classes within Kerala. Then KSCBC had to make recommendations to the state based on the report. The entire process was to be completed within six months.
“The Union government had challenged the High Court order in the Supreme Court. On 28 June, 2021, the Supreme Court dismissed the union government’s special leave petition. While doing so, it had also granted the state another year to comply with the order. The extended time period ended in September 2022. It has been a year since then, but the state government has not even initiated the process of the census yet,” said advocate Haris Beeran, who was appearing for the petitioner.
“The government even after having sufficient time has not taken any steps to conduct the caste-based census and preparation and finalisation of the report of the socio-economic study in Kerala. The state has wilfully and intentionally disobeyed the directions of the Supreme Court as well as teh direction passed by the High Court,” added Beeran.
Beeran said that more than 30 years have passed since the Indira Sawhney judgement. “The reservation list has to be updated and revised every 10 years. It has not been done. The state is not interested in doing it. This is nothing but contempt of the Supreme Court,” added Beeran.
He pointed out in court that the inaction on the part of the Kerala government violates the statutory functions mandated under Section 11 of the Kerala State Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993.
“Section 11(1) of the Kerala State Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 states that the Government may at any time, and shall, at the expiration of 10 years from the coming into force of this Act and every succeeding period of 10 years thereafter, undertake a revision of the list with a view to exclude from such lists those classes who have ceased to be backward classes or for including in such list new backward classes,” said Beeran.
The petitioner has stated that due to this non-revision, the Muslim community, SC/ST and 70 other backward classes have been grossly underrepresented in the Kerala Public Services. According to a survey conducted by the Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishath and the report of Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee authorities, Muslim representation is abysmally low in the Kerala Public Services. On the contrary, Ezhava community with lesser population than Muslims was getting adequate representation in Public Services.
It was highlighted that though the petitioner and other backward classes have filed various representations before the government, no action was taken. As no revision was done to the list, the Constitutional rights afforded to the backward classes especially the Muslim community as well as the SC/ST communities and 73 other backward classes have been completely sabotaged by state.
“Very many backward classes have lost their due share in the administration of the state due to dereliction of duty of the Kerala State Commission for Backward Classes,” stated the petition.