New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government should not tweak the OBC reservation in a manner that it flouts the basic principle guiding reservations norms in India, the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) has told the ruling dispensation.
In a letter written to the government earlier this month, the NCBC has taken strong exception to the government’s new proposal to include salary as a component to determine the income ceiling for the creamy layer of Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
The underlying principle behind reservation is to accord it on the basis of social and not economic backwardness, said an NCBC member, who didn’t want to be named.
The new proposal of the government fundamentally violates that, he added.
The NCBC is headed by its chairman Bhagwan Lal Sahni.
As reported earlier by ThePrint, the government had recommended raising the income ceiling for the creamy layer of OBCs from Rs 8 lakh to Rs 12 lakh per annum, and for the first time, called for salaries to be included in the income component of those seeking reservation under the OBC category.
“The whole commission has told the government that it would be against the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case to change the basic principle of reservation… Reservations to OBCs are given to fix their social, and not economic backwardness,” the member said.
“As a constitutional body, the commission has advised what it thinks is correct and just…Rest is up to the government,” he added.
The DoPT, which is looking after the proposal, did not reply to ThePrint’s queries sent via WhatsApp to its spokesperson at the time of publishing this report.
Govt panel had no OBC member
The commission has also “emphatically” taken exception to the fact that none of the members in the government-appointed panel, which first recommended these changes, had any OBC representation, another NCBC member said.
“One member in the four-member panel was OBC, but that member recused himself right at the beginning,” said the member.
“But the government did not appoint anyone after that… It is something the commission has emphatically highlighted.”
The government-appointed panel, headed by former DoPT secretary B.P. Sharma, had given its recommendations to the government in September last year.
Following this, last month, the Social Justice Ministry had circulated a cabinet note, seeking suggestions and inputs from other ministries.
‘Politically imprudent move’
According to both the members, the NCBC has also highlighted the fact that most seats reserved for OBCs in the government and educational institutions have been lying vacant.
“When already you are not able to fill the existing quota, why are you shrinking the pool further?” the second NCBC member quoted above said.
The NCBC, which consists of several BJP leaders, also believes that it would be a politically imprudent move for the government to antagonise its OBC voters who constitute a powerful vote bank for the BJP, the member added.
“We don’t know if there is a rethink in the government after these issues were highlighted to them,” the member said. “It has at least not been communicated to us yet.”
On Tuesday, ThePrint had reported that the government has decided to put the proposal on hold until consensus is built with the stakeholders, especially OBC leaders from within the BJP.