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SC has restricted Rajasthan govt from crossing 50 per cent quota cap; Congress may face similar challenge in wooing Patidars through reservation formula.

New Delhi: A recent Supreme Court order on OBC quota has a lesson for the Congress, which is trying to woo Patidars in the poll-bound Gujarat.

On 26 October, the Rajasthan government passed the Rajasthan Backward Class Bill in the assembly, seeking to increase the OBC quota by five per cent — from existing 21 per cent to 26 per cent.

The additional five per cent quota was worked out to include Gujjars and four other communities —Banjara, Gadiya Lohar, Raikas and Gadariyas.

The bill was then stayed by the Rajasthan High Court on the grounds that the said provisions would go beyond 50 per cent cap on total reservations fixed by the Supreme Court.

The Rajasthan government then challenged the stay order in the Supreme Court. On November 15, the SC set aside the high court order, but restricted the quota limit at 50 per cent

“In our considered opinion, the order passed by the high court staying the legislative process is totally uncalled for and therefore, that part of the impugned order is stayed. However, taking into the considerations the facts and the circumstances of the case and various decisions of this court, we are inclined to restrain the state government in taking any action…which will have the result of crossing the total reservation beyond 50 per cent,” said the SC order.

The Congress, which is trying to win support of the Patidars in Gujarat, might face similar situations if they make any promise of reservation under the OBC quota or over and above the 50 per cent cap.

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who met members of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) in Ahmedabad recently, is learnt to have offered them three solutions. One of these is to provide a special quota over and above the existing OBC quota for Patidars.

“The Congress proposal has not touched the existing 49 per cent reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs in the state. The options that have been given are over and above the quota limit,” said PAAS convener Dinesh Bambhania.

If the Congress promises to offer beyond the existing reservation limits, the total reservation in the state would cross the 50 per cent cap and hence would become invalid as per the Supreme Court order.

The Patidars are unhappy with the BJP on the reservation issue. BJP thinks that any promise by the Congress would put it on the back foot. That’s why the BJP is demanding the Congress to clear its stand on the Patidar quota issue.

At present, both Hardik Patel-led PAAS and the Congress are silent over the formula offered by the Congress but the latter will have to announce its plan very soon in order to get Patidars on its side.

Before Rajasthan, the Haryana government had on 29 March 2016 passed a similar bill in the assembly, seeking a special 10 per cent quota under a new Backward Class (C) category for Jats and five other communities. This bill was also stayed by a bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court on 26 May 2016.

However, on 1 September, the high court upheld the validity of this new quota but the implementation was stayed.

 

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