In a major setback to the Jats community from the Hindi belt, the Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the government notification extending their status for 10 years as Other Backward Classes (OBC).
The apex court said it was a “possible wrong inclusion” of the community in the OBC list in the past and a politically organised class like Jat community cannot be given reservation.
“We hold that a politically organised class like Jat community cannot be given reservation,” the Supreme Court said in its landmark judgement today.
The court also asked the government why the list is increasing in number and no caste was deleted over the period and hinted that the transgender community should be included in the list.
The decision to include Jats, a powerful community in Haryana, UP and Delhi was taken by the outgoing UPA government in March 2014 and was supported by the BJP and other political parties.
In its affidavit, the government held that its decision was based on a panel recommendation of the Indian Council for Social Science and Research (ICSSR).
“As regards averments that the central government with a motive to gain benefit for the ruling parties in the forthcoming general election issued the said notification, this fact is denied as unfounded.”
Currently the Jat population in India is more than 8.2 crore and they are present in nine northern states. From historical and anthropological viewpoint, Jats were herds and beyond Shudra in the Hindu Varna system as late as 8th century but began moving into the Shudra and then claiming to be zamindars or landlords by the 18th century, according to Uma Chakravarti, a historian.
The northern states of Delhi, Rajasthan and UP have already given OBC status to certain clans of Jats. Essentially, organised into hundreds of patrilineal clans, Jats wield control over their community through the Sarva Khap Panchayats, which have recently attracted attention for their deriding verdicts against women and their equal rights in society.
In addition, they have regional Jat Mahasabhas and All India Jat Mahasabha to protect their community interests, which the apex court mentioned in its verdict today saying they are well-organised political group in the country that needed no reservation..