The Allahabad High Court directive restraining the Uttar Pradesh government from providing reservations to Yadavs, three other subcastes and Jatavs among the Scheduled Castes in recruitment to police services has come as a big jolt for the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP).
The HC directive could block the recruitment of 35,500 constables for the police and fire services, a process that is already underway. Of the vacant posts, at least 50 percent are reserved for OBCs and SCs/STs. Yadavs, the core votebank of the SP, have always been a major beneficiary of the OBC quota and have cornered a lion’s share whenever the party has been in power in the state.
Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the HC order is a setback for the SP, which is already struggling to retain its support base among the minorities in the wake of the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining districts.
The previous Bahujan Samaj Party government had cancelled the appointment of 22,000 constables made during the regime of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav (2003- 07), after Mayawati was voted to power in May 2007.
Sumit Shukla and three other petitioners had argued that Yadavs, three of their sub-castes and Jatavs were already adequately represented in the state police services.
Earlier, the HC had given three weeks’ time to the state government for filing a counter affidavit. On 4 October, the court extended it by another month. Justice Sudhir Agarwal stated that the appointments made under the present reservation scheme would be subject to the outcome of this latest petition.
The HC also directed the government to file a reply on whether any investigation or inquiry has been done or any committee constituted in the past 10 years to find out the present status of representation of various caste/class in state services in which representation is continuing.
“The state government has no population data about the OBCs and SCs or about each caste under the OBC category that has benefited from the reservation,” says Agnihotri Kumar Tripathi, the counsel for the petitioner. “In the M Nagaraj vs Union of India case, regarding reservation in promotions, the Supreme Court had said that it was unconstitutional to implement caste-based reservation without having credible data on the population of various castes.”
“A survey conducted by the UP government in 2001 had established that Yadavs, Kurmis, Jats and Chamars among the SCs have more representation in state services in proportion to their share in population,” he adds.
In July, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had forced the Lok Seva Ayog (UP Public Service Commission) to roll back the order for providing reservations for OBCs following violent protests by General Category students who had dubbed the Lok Seva Ayog as ‘Yadav Seva Ayog’. Ever since, OBC organisations have been on a war path against the government and have vowed to teach the SP a lesson during the 2014 General Election for what they call “backstabbing its core constituency”.
“It’s true that neither the state government nor the Centre has any credible data on the share of OBCs and SCs in the national population,” says senior SP leader Ram Asrey Vishwakarma, who is also the chairman of the state OBC Commission. “There is no basis to claim that particular castes among the OBCs are over-represented in the state services as there has been no caste-based census held since 1931. The Centre had announced a plan to carry out caste-based census but it is yet to commence.”
“Even two decades after the implementation of the Mandal Commission report, not even a single department in UP has managed to fill the 27 percent quota meant for OBCs. Once this is filled, a review should be done over the representation of various castes in the state services.”
Senior BJP leader Hukum Singh, who headed the Social Justice Committee when his party was in power in 2001-02, says, “The HC has endorsed the Social Justice Committee’s recommendation. Dominant castes among the OBCs that have got more than adequate representation in the state services should be delisted and the Most Backward Castes and Extremely Backward Castes should be given more reservations.