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Polls round the corner, Modi govt set to grant 12th extension to Justice Rohini panel on OBCs

4-member commission headed by retired Justice G. Rohini was set up in 2017 to examine sub-categorisation of OBCs. It was supposed to submit its report by March 2018.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government is all set to grant a 12th extension to the Justice Rohini Commission, which was set up in 2017 to examine the sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and the equitable distribution of benefits reserved for OBCs among these sub-categories, ThePrint has learnt.

The extension comes ahead of the assembly elections scheduled in five states in the next few weeks, including in Uttar Pradesh, where backward classes are likely to play a crucial role in determining the winner.

According to a senior government official, the commission will get a six-month extension to submit its report.

This is the 12th extension for the commission that was originally supposed to submit its report by March 2018. The previous extension was granted in July 2021.

“The Rohini commission has informed the ministry that in view of Covid-19 pandemic the task given to them remains incomplete, as it requires visits to several states. They will be granted another extension to allow them to complete their work,” said a senior official in the government.

The four-member commission is headed by former Delhi High Court judge, Justice G. Rohini (retd), while the other members are Dr J.K. Bajaj, Director, Centre for Policy Studies, Gauri Basu, Director, Anthropological Survey of India, Kolkata (ex-officio member), and Vivek Joshi, Registrar General and Census Commissioner (ex-officio member).

Also read: Weeks before UP polls, Modi govt shelves proposal to change eligibility for OBC creamy layer

The commission’s mandate

According to sources, the extension is set to come weeks before the crucial elections in Uttar Pradesh, which has a sizeable OBC population, and any OBC sub-categorisation or inclusion/exclusion could have an electoral impact.

In a written reply to the Lok Sabha in March 2018, then-minister of state for social justice and empowerment, Krishan Pal Gurjar, had said the mandate of the commission includes, “to examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities included in the broad category of Other Backward Classes, with reference to such classes included in the Central List; to work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters in a scientific approach for sub-categorisation within such Other Backward Classes; to take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes or communities or sub-castes or synonyms in the Central List of Other Backward Classes and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.”

The proposed extension would postpone the crucial sub-categorisation by months and push the submission of the panel’s report to long after the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand, among others.

Currently, a reservation of 27 per cent is set aside for OBCs in government jobs and central government-funded educational institutes.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: You are an OBC if you score 11/22 — We traced nearly 100 years of caste in Indian census


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