NEW DELHI — The decision of erstwhile UPA regime to include Jats in central list of OBCs to accord quota benefits to them was today set aside by the Supreme Court which held that earlier "possible wrong inclusions" cannot be the basis of further inclusion and reservation should be given only to the "most distressed".
The bench, while quashing the March 4, 2014 notification that had enabled Jats to claim reservation in nine states, said that backwardness of a class now cannot be determined on the basis of "mathematical formulae" evolved by taking into account "social, economic and educational indicators".
"The perception of a self-proclaimed socially backward class of citizens or even the perception of the 'advanced classes' as to the social status of the 'less fortunates' cannot continue to be a constitutionally permissible yardstick for determination of backwardness, both in the context of Articles 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution.
"Neither can any longer backwardness be a matter of determination on the basis of mathematical formulae evolved by taking into account social, economic and educational indicators. Determination of backwardness must also cease to be relative; possible wrong inclusions cannot be the basis for further inclusions but the gates would be opened only to permit entry of the most distressed.
"Any other inclusion would be a serious abdication of the constitutional duty of the State. Judged by the aforesaid standards we must hold that inclusion of the politically organized classes (such as Jats) in the list of backward classes mainly, if not solely, on the basis that on same parameters other groups who have fared better have been so included cannot be affirmed," a bench of justices Ranjan rpt Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman said.
The court, in its 64-page verdict, referred to various constitutional schemes and the report of National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) and said the finding of the OBC panel that Jats do not deserve to be given quota benefits was "supported by good and acceptable reasons".
"We cannot agree with the view taken by Union Government that Jats in 9 states in question is a backward community so as to be entitled to inclusion in Central Lists of OBCs for the states concerned. The view taken by NCBC to the contrary is adequately supported by good and acceptable reasons which furnished a sound and reasonable basis for further consequential action on the part of Union Government...," it said.