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Inclusion of castes in OBC group: Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court Wednesday sought to know if the Maharashtra government had conducted any study or survey before issuing a notification in 1967 inducting several castes in the OBC category for reservation.

A division bench of Chief Justice N H Patil and Justice N M Jamdar was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist B A Sarate challenging the inclusion of several castes in the Other Backward Class (OBC) group.

Sarate’s counsel V M Thorat told the HC that out of the 96 castes included in the OBC category, nearly 40 per cent were not even eligible for reservation.

“Inclusion of these castes is unconstitutional. There is a procedure laid down while deciding which caste should be included in a particular category for reservation. The government is not following this procedure,” Thorat said.

The bench then sought to know if the government had carried out any study or survey before issuing the Government Resolution (GR) in 1967 inducting a particular caste in the OBC category.

The petitioner has challenged the GR enlisting 180 castes and sub-castes for inclusion in the OBC category, and also another GR, dated March 1994, which increased the OBC quota percentage from 14 per cent to 32 per cent.

The petition claimed that various castes or communities were included in the OBC category without any survey, quantifiable data, investigation to determine the social, educational and economic backwardness.

“There has to be a comprehensive commission to carry out study and collect data. This is what the petition also seeks,” Chief Justice Patil said.

The bench then directed that the petition be placed for hearing before an appropriate bench next week.

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