[Case Brief] Ram Singh and others Vs. Union of India and others

The Supreme Court toppled an administration choice to give reservations to the Jat people group in nine states by incorporating them in the Central List of Backward Classes. The judgment Ram Singh v/s Union of India had created a huge political stir.

Ram Singh and others Vs. Union of India and others (Jat Judgment)

Writ Petition (Civil) Nos. 274, 261, 278, 297, 298, 305, 357 and 955 of 2014

Before the Supreme Court of India

 

Bench: Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton Nariman, JJ.

Author of the Judgment: Ranjan Gogoi, JJ.

Relevant Acts/ Statutes:

  • Constitution of India-Articles 15, 15(4), 16, 16(4), 29, 38, 46, and 340.
  • The National Commission of Backward Classes Act-Sections 2, 3, 8, 9, 9(1), 9(2), and 11.
  • Code of Civil Procedure-Section 114, Order 47.

Decided on: March 17th, 2015

Issue: Whether the notification issued by the Union Government on March 4th, 2014, that set out for an inclusion of Jat community in the Central list of backward classes was constitutional?

Brief Facts: The National Commission for Backward Classes, after receiving several requests for inclusion of Jat community of the states of Rajasthan, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in the Central list of Backward Classes prepared a report, wherein it recommended inclusion of only the Jat community of Rajasthan, except the Bharatpur and Dhaulpur districts.

  • However on 25th November 2010, on the question of inclusion of Jats in the Central list of OBC, the NCBC submitted a report rejecting their claims.
  • On 3rd May 2011, the NCBC (power to review advice) rules were framed, and NCBC was empowered to review its own advice given to the Government in the above 2 reports. Rule 4 of the Rules provides that the “provision of Section 114 and Order 47 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 shall mutatis mutandis apply to a review undertaken by the Commission.”
  • On 19th July 2011, the NCBC approached the Indian Council for Social Science Research to conduct a full-fledged survey to assess the socio-economic conditions of the Jat community. The NCBC, later on in October 2012, instead decided to restrict the survey to a 2% sample survey.
  • The Prime Minister, in 2013 notified of a Cabinet committee, which then approached the NCBC to review its earlier decision on a sample survey. The NCBC then on the basis of some public hearings, decided that the Jat Community does not fulfill the criteria for inclusion in the Central List of backward communities.
  • It was found by the NCBC that Jats were not socially or educationally backward, nor were they under-represented in employment and educational institutions.
  • On 2nd March 2014, the Union Cabinet decided to disapprove the advice of the NCBC and to instead include the Jat Community in the Central List. Followed by which, on 4th March 2014, the impugned notification was released.

Arguments of the petitioner:

  • The council for the Petitioner alleged legal malice on the part of the Government. That the Government had exercised such power to gain electoral benefits and to fulfill their political motives, the Council argued.
  • That the notification is in derogation of Rule 9 of the NCBC act, which clearly provides: “the advice of the NCBC should be binding on the Government”.
  • That the notification also derogated section 11 of the Act, which states: “the views of the NCBC would be equally compulsive and binding, and should command for acceptance of the Central Government except in situations where there are strong compelling and overwhelming reasons not to do so. There were no such reasons in the present matter.
  • The precedents of Barium Chemicals Ltd. Vs. Company Law Board]; Rohtas Industries Ltd. Vs. S.D. Agarwal & Ors.; Shri Sitaram Sugar Co. Ltd. & Anr. Vs. Union of India & Ors. and Gazi Saduddin Vs. State of Maharashtra & Anr. Were cited by the Council in support of his claims.
  • That the Central Government’s decision is not based on any quantifiable data or materials to satisfy the tests of Article 16 of the Constitution.

Arguments of Learned Attorney General for the State:

Supported by Councils for other Respondents:

  • That the power of providing reservation to the Jat community as a backward class flows from Article 16(4) of the Constitution,
  • That the advice of the NCBC is not binding and holds no relevance as far as the powers of the Government under Article 16(4) is concerned.
  • That the said notification is not released in an exercise of power under Section 9 of the NCBC Act.
  • That the NCBC had deferred any decision on the inclusion of the community since 2011, and hence the reports are not reliable.
  • That State lists of OBCs formulate enough grounds for any community to be included in the Central list.
  • One of the Senior Councils for the respondent contended that the test laid down in the Indra Sawhney case was fully satisfied by the Jat community.

Held:

The Court did not agree with the view of the Central Government and held that the Jat is not a backward community so as to be included in the Central list of backward classes. Hence the notification by the Central Government is not justified.

Ratio:

(This brief was prepared and submitted to LawBriefs.in by Maitreya Shah,Student at Gujarat National Law University.) 

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