In a significant judgement, the Supreme Court has set aside the notification issued by the previous ruling dispensation to include the Jat community in the scope of reservation benefits accorded to Other Backward Classes (OBC’s). The move by the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance government was seen by some as a cynical move to gather votes from the Jat community, which wields significant political clout in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Delhi.
The bench in its judgement quashed the notification of the UPA government and pointed out that the Jats are not eligible for being categorized as an OBC. Justice Ranjan Gogoi in his judgement pointed out that the central government overlooked the relevant socio-economic factors and instead fixated solely on the caste factor. It must be noted that the Manmohan Singh-led government had then summarily ignored the advice of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) while issuing the aforementioned notification.
The Jat community, which has the image of a powerful and dominant community, has socio-economic indices comparable to prosperous upper castes. The only exception to this is Western Uttar Pradesh, where Jats are indeed backward and largely neglected by the state. The judgement has sent shock waves with prominent Jat leaders like Rameshwar Dudi and Gyanaprakash Pilani stating that this judgement will significantly impact the aspirations of the Jats. It will be interesting to see how the Bharatiya Janata Party government responds to this judgement given that the Jats form a substantial vote bank for them.