Cabinet approves the extension of tenure of the Commission constituted to examine the issue of Sub-categorization within Other Backward Classes in the Central List

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the final extension of the term of the Other Backward Classes in the Central List currently mandated upto 20th June 2018, till 31st July 2018.

The Commission held extensive meetings with the stakeholders including the State Governments, the State Backward Classes Commissions, various community associations and general public belonging to various Backward Classes and Communities. The Commission also obtained records, caste-wise of OBCs admitted in a higher educational institution as well as similar caste-wise data of recruits in Central Departments, Central Public Sector Undertakings, Public Sector Banks & Financial Institutions.

Terms of references of the Commission are as follows:

To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes/ communities included in the broad category of OBCs, with reference to the OBCs included in the Central list.

To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms, and parameters, in a scientific approach, for sub-categorization within such OBCs.

To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes/communities/ sub-castes/ synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.

Is sub-categorization permissible under the law?

The Supreme Court in its order in Indra Sawhney and others vs. Union of India observed that there is no constitutional or legal bar to State categorizing backward classes as backward or more backward and had further observed that if a State chooses to do it (sub-categorization), it is not impermissible in law.

At present, there is a single Central OBC list, with entries from each State. People belonging to all of these castes can seek reservation from within the single 27% OBC reservation pie for Central government jobs and Central educational institutions. Nine States, however, have already sub-categorized OBCs. These are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry, Karnataka, Haryana, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. OBC reservation became a reality after the implementation of the Mandal Commission report, which categorized many castes as constituting backward classes and deserving of quotas. New castes have been added to the list over the years.

Subcategorization of the OBCs will ensure that the more backward among the OBC communities can also access the benefits of reservation for educational institutions and government jobs.

At present, many feel that the more advanced OBC castes corner the lion’s share of the benefits and have become influential. Not only will such a move offer more opportunities to the most backward castes among the OBCs but also give the government and the ruling party an opportunity to carve out a new political constituency.

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