WB High Court Cancels OBC Certificates Issued Since 2010; CM Vows Non-Compliance

The ruling, by justices Tapabrata Chakrabarty and Rajasekhar Mantha, does not affect those already employed using these certificates.
West Bengal High Court
West Bengal High CourtX

New Delhi: The Calcutta High Court has nullified all Other Backward Classes (OBC) certificates issued in West Bengal since 2010. The decision of a division bench, comprising justices Tapabrata Chakrabarty and Rajasekhar Mantha, specifies that individuals who secured employment using these certificates will not be affected. This ruling is likely to impact around 5 lakh people who were issued OBC certificates post 2010.

The court invalidated several sections of the West Bengal Backward Classes (Other than Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) (Reservation of Vacancies in Services and Posts) Act, 2012.

Specifically, Section 16, the latter part of Section 2(h) and Section 5(a) of the Act, which allocated reservation percentages of 10% and 7% to certain sub-categories, were struck down. Consequently, the sub-categories OBC-A and OBC-B were removed from Schedule I of the Act.

The court noted, “Citizens from the 77 classes and 37 classes (added under Section 16) struck down above, who are already in state service or have benefited from the reservation or succeeded in any state selection process, shall not be affected by this judgment.”

The bench criticized the 2012 scheme for lacking a coherent legislative policy governing the state's authority to classify any class as OBC and ordered the State to establish a clear legislative policy before delegating such authority.

The court emphasized the necessity of current data for making OBC reservations, pointing out that the reports used by the state were not originally relied upon and appeared to be an attempt to cover up omissions.

The court stated, “The selection of 77 classes of Muslims as backward is an affront to the Muslim community as a whole. This court’s mind is not free from doubt that the said community has been treated as a commodity for political ends. This is clear from the chain of events that led to the classification of the 77 classes as OBCs and their inclusion to be treated as a vote bank.”

Justice Chakraborty concurred with Justice Mantha’s judgment, emphasizing the importance of strict adherence to the rule of law, stating, “Strict adherence to the rule of law is to be ensured and the same cannot be allowed to be flouted in the hands of executives who, dressed in little brief authority, exercise discretion that cripples the constitutional guarantee of fairness and reasonableness.”

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee later declared that her government would not comply with the court's order, accusing it of being a conspiracy orchestrated by the BJP.

She affirmed that the OBC reservation policy introduced by the West Bengal government would remain in effect, highlighting that the bill was formulated after a comprehensive door-to-door survey.

Additionally, she noted that the bill had received approval from both the Cabinet and the Assembly. "The BJP has conspired to derail it by using central agencies. How can the saffron party show such audacity?" Mamata remarked.

TMC leader Saket Gokhale posted on X (formally Twitter), "An interesting fact about today's OBC certificate cancellation verdict by the Calcutta High Court is that the judge who issued the ruling is the same judge who previously granted blanket immunity in criminal cases to BJP's Suvendu Adhikari."

In order to understand the impact of this judgement, The Mooknayak spoke to Ashoke Das, who is a former Member of Parliament of the CPI(M).

“The 5 lakh people who will lose out on the certificates will obviously not take out lightly. And among them, there must be communities who actually were deserving of the reservation. But even they have lost out on the opportunity due to a government that took hasty decisions for political gains,” Das reacted.

“This is due to the TMC government’s lack of democratic understanding and lack of a vision.”

According to him, TMC was bound to discuss it with the Backward Commission first, which they did not do. Even the categorisation of OBCs was not discussed before implementation. No survey or hearing was done.

A ripple effect of this is that it gave the BJP a chance to do communal politics as many Muslim communities were also granted OBC status.

Das continued, “There are many Muslim communities in the state who do not have a good financial situation or social standing. But this step was taken without any survey, which ultimately proved to be detrimental.”

The Mooknayak also tried to contact the West Bengal Commission for Backward Classes and the Backward Classes Welfare Department for a comment, but officials concerned refused to speak.

You can also join our WhatsApp group to get premium and selected news of The Mooknayak on WhatsApp. Click here to join the WhatsApp group.

The Mooknayak English - Voice Of The Voiceless