The Uttar Pradesh government had on June 24 directed district magistrates and commissioners to issue caste certificates to 17 OBCs.
New Delhi: In a major embarrassment for the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government, the Centre on Tuesday termed as “unconstitutional” and “improper” the state government’s move to include 17 communities belonging to OBCs in the Scheduled Castes (SC) list. The Centre also reminded the UP government that only Parliament has the right to do so, after the issue was raised in the Rajya Sabha by BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra who said even the President “does not have the power to tinker, alter or make changes in the list” without the due constitutional process.
“The order that they (UP government) have issued now is not appropriate, not in accordance with the Constitution,” said social justice and empowerment minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, urging the state government not to issue caste certificates based on the order that is unlikely to stand judicial scrutiny.
Mr Gehlot said if the UP government wants to go ahead with its proposal, it should follow the procedure and send a proposal to the Centre for considering it.
The Uttar Pradesh government had on June 24 directed district magistrates and commissioners to issue caste certificates to 17 OBCs, a move seen as an attempt to influence caste groups ahead of the bypolls to 12 Assembly seats in the state.
Though this is not the first time that the UP government tried to make such an attempt as earlier the Samajwadi Party-led state government had made such attempts twice, in 2005 and 2017 but were termed void due to legal intervention.
The 17 caste groups — Kashyap, Rajbhar, Dhivar, Bind, Kumhar, Kahar, Kewat, Nishad, Bhar, Mallah, Prajapati, Dhimar, Batham, Turha, Godia, Manjhi and Machua — have been demanding inclusion in the SC list for the past 15 years.
Mr Gehlot informed the House that shifting of one category to another caste category is the right of Parliament and in the past also three-four similar proposals were sent to Parliament, but not agreed upon.
Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu asked the minister to advise the state government to follow the due process.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, the BSP member said under Article 341 sub-clause (2) of the Constitution, the power to make changes in the SC list lies only with Parliament.
“Even President (of India) does not have the power to tinker, alter or make changes (in the list)”, said Mr Mishra, adding these 17 castes will neither get benefits meant for OBCs nor SCs since a state government has no power to make any alteration to the SC list.
Mr Mishra said the BSP was in favour of including 17 castes in the SC list but only after following the prescribed procedure and increasing the SC quota proportionately.
“The power of Parliament cannot be usurped by a state,” he said.