- UP Government had ordered including 17 OBCs in list of Scheduled Castes
- Union Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot called the move "unconstitutional"
- Shifting of a caste category to another is right of parliament: Minister
Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, was told off by his own party government at the centre on Tuesday over a move to include 17 OBCs or Other Backward Classes in the list of Scheduled Castes. "This is not proper," said Union Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot in parliament after the opposition BSP raised the subject.
On June 24, the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh directed district magistrates and commissioners to issue scheduled caste certificates to OBCs like Kashyap, Rajbhar, Dhivar, Bind, Kumhar, Kahar, Kewat, Nishad, Bhar, Mallah, Prajapati, Dhimar, Batham, Turha, Godia, Manjhi and Machua.
The move, which will enable these castes to get quota benefits, has not just been linked to upcoming by-polls to 12 assembly seats but also to the 2022 UP polls.
It is "unconstitutional", said Thawar Chand Gehlot, the central Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment in the Rajya Sabha, where BSP leader SC Mishra brought it up during zero hour. He agreed with Mr Mishra that only the centre could sanction such a move.
Mr Gehlot said if the UP government wanted to go ahead with the decision, it should follow procedure and send a proposal to the Centre. "We would then consider it," he added.
He asked the UP government not to issue caste certificates based on the order or the matter may go to court.
The minister, who is also leader of the Rajya Sabha, said shifting of one category to another caste category is the right of parliament.
In the past, similar proposals were sent to Parliament but rejected, Mr Gehlot noted.
Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu asked the minister to advise the state government to follow due process.
Mr Misra had cited a rule in the constitution to make his point that only parliament has the power to make changes in the Scheduled Caste list. "Even the President (of India) does not have the power to tinker, alter or make changes (in the list)," he said.
Mr Mishra also said while his party favoured the inclusion of 17 castes in Scheduled Castes, the prescribed procedure should be followed and the Scheduled Caste quota should be increased proportionately.
"The power of Parliament cannot be upsurged by a state," said the BSP leader. He said the Centre should send an advisory to the Uttar Pradesh government to withdraw the "unconstitutional order" as it was "harming the castes".
In 2005, the Samajwadi Party government of Mulayam Singh Yadav had passed an order to include 11 OBCs in the Scheduled Castes list but the order was stayed and the proposal sent to the Centre.
Later the BSP government of Mayawati also cancelled such a notification, insisting that the quota for Scheduled Castes be increased before more castes are added.
Before the 2017 state election, then Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party cleared a new proposal but it was challenged in a petition being heard by the Allahabad High Court.
The Yogi Adityanath government, while announcing the move last week referred to the high court's "observation" in 2017 to justify it.