Friday, February 3, 2023

Only Parliament can include any castes/group to list of Scheduled Castes under Constitution: Allahabad High Court

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The Allahabad High Court has set aside the Government Orders issued by the Uttar Pradesh government, recognising 17 Other Backward Classes sub-castes as Scheduled Castes.

The Bench of Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice J.J. Munir ruled that it was impermissible for a state government to undertake such an exercise, in view of the provisions of Article 341 of the Constitution

The High Court observed that provisions of Article 341 did not leave any scope for including any Caste or Group to the list of Scheduled Caste in a State provided by the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, except by way of a law made by the Parliament.

The state of Uttar Pradesh, by way of Government Orders on December 21 and 22, had decided to include Majhwar, Kahar, Kashyap, Kevat, Mallah, Nishad, Kumhar, Prajapati, Dheevar, Bind, Bhar, Rajbhar, Dhiman, Batham, Turha, Godia, Manjhi and Machua, which were members of certain ‘Other Backward Castes,’ under the Schedule Caste list.

The GOs were challenged in the High Court by way of a writ petition by Dr. B.R. Ambedker Granthalaya Evam Jan Kalyan Samiti, Gorakhpur.

Another Government Order was issued by the state in 2019 on June 24 to the same effect, which was challenged by another plea moved by one Gorakh Prasad.

Both the petitioners argued that the list of Scheduled Castes was prepared by the President of the country and only the Parliament has the right to make any changes to the same. The states have no right to amend it in any way, they added.

The High Court, while hearing the plea challenging the December 21, 2016 decision of the state government, observed that the particular GO only said that the members of Caste Majhwar, whose Entry Number was 53 in the Scheduled Castes Order, should be issued the necessary certificates after verification of their status, therefore, there was no illegality in that order.

As far as the December 22 GO was concerned, the Bench noted that it clearly recognised 17 Other Backward Classes as Scheduled Castes in the name of clarification, which was not proper.

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