The Supreme Court Wednesday declined to stay the central government's decision to extend reservation in education and jobs to Jats under the OBC category in nine states and sought its response to a plea challenging its move.
A bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice N.V. Ramana while declining to stay the order, said that without expressing any opinion, it was directing the central government to file its response to the batch of petitions.
"Interim prayer for stay is rejected. However, any action taken pursuant to the impugned notification will be subject to the outcome of the writ petitions," the court said in its order.
Taking note of the entire record placed before it by the central government relating to the decision to include Jats in list of Other Backward Classes (OBC), the court said: "On going through the same, we are prima facie satisfied and it cannot be contended that there is no material for taking such decision."
"Without expressing any further opinion on the same, we direct the respondent - Union of India- to file counter affidavit within three weeks", the court said in its order.
The court said that any rejoinder or reply to central government's response would be filed within two days thereafter as it directed the listing of the case on May 1 - at the top of the list of the matters.
The court also directed the central government to once again produce the original records on the next date of hearing.
The court also wanted to know the basis of the order, as senior counsel K. Parasaran said the reasons are there in the records.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal argued that the March 4 notification was issued a day before the model code of conduct came into force and was aimed at garnering votes in the Lok Sabha elections.
"It is (reservation for Jats) is for their private benefits at the time of elections", he said.
At this, the court said that "till the last date (before Model Code of Conduct comes into force), they (government) are entitled to take decisions".
Venugopal questioned how the government could ignore the recommendations of the National Commission for Backward Castes that had recommended against including Jats in OBC reservation and go by the report of the Indian Council for Social Sciences Research that found Jats eligible for OBC reservation.
The senior counsel said that NCBC was a statutory body to make recommendations for including different castes within the ambit of OBCs.
The reservation for Jats has been challenged by petitioner Ram Singh and the OBC Reservation Raksha Samiti.