In a major setback to the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad High Court on Monday stayed its decision to include 17 communities belonging to the OBCs in the Scheduled Castes (SC) list. The court order came on a petition filed by social activist Gorakh Prasad.
On June 24, the Yogi government directed district officials to issue caste certificates to families belonging to 17 OBCs—Kashyap, Rajbhar, Dhivar, Bind, Kumhar, Kahar, Kewat, Nishad, Bhar, Mallah, Prajapati, Dhimar, Batham, Turha, Godia, Manjhi and Machua.
The move was seen as an attempt to strengthen the BJP's base among the OBC communities ahead of by-elections to 12 Assembly seats. These OBC communities have been demanding SC status for over a decade.
The state government's decision, however, had sparked off a storm with the detractors calling it unconstitutional. Even the central government had taken exception with this move.
In early July, the Centre had warned the state government against going ahead with its decision, saying such a move was not in accordance with the Constitution. Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot had said that only the Parliament has the right to shift caste category.
BSP supremo Mayawati had called the Yogi government's decision “politically motivated”.
"Part one of Article 341 clearly states that the President can specify any group to SC category through a public notification on Governor's advice. Part 2 of the Article says that if notification is released under part one of the Article, it can only be changed by Parliament. Part 2 states that Parliament can specify, include or exclude any group from SC category," she had said.
In 2005, then Mulayam Singh Yadav government had issued order to include 11 OBC communities in the SC list. However, the following BSP government quashed the notification.
The SP government of Akhilesh Yadav again cleared the inclusion proposal ahead of the 2017 assembly elections. However, it was challenged and is still in court.