Bill granting reservation to Jats stayed by Haryana HC

RSTV Bureau
Protesters set shops on fire as the Jat agitation demanding reservation intensifies in Sonipat on Satur Photo-PTI

File photo of protesters setting shops on fire during the Jat agitation in Sonipat in Haryana. Protesters demanded reservation for Jats in the OBC category.     Photo-PTI

On Thursday in a major setback to the Khattar government in Haryana, the Punjab and Haryana High Court stayed the reservation for Jats and five other communities.

The court in its interim order stayed the reservation till June 21 and also issued a notice to the state government asking for a reply during the next hearing.

On March 29, the Haryana Assembly had passed a bill within 13 minutes that provided Jats and six other communities reservation under the newly carved Backward Classes (C) category.

In February, more than 30 people had died in the violence when the Jats had intensified their agitation in demand for a quota. The protesting Jats had cut off water supply and road connectivity to Delhi during the protests. The protestors also burnt several shops and vehicles. The protesters called off their protests only after they were assured by the state government that their reservation demand will be passed by the state Assembly before the April 3 deadline set by the Jats.

On Thursday, the High Court passed the order while hearing a petition challenging the constitutional validity of The Haryana Backward Classes (reservation in services and admission in educational institutions) Act 2016 that was passed unanimously by the state Assembly on March 29.

The Act was challenged by Murari Lal Gupta of Bhiwani, who was seeking a direction to quash block ‘C’ of the Act, which provides reservation to the Jat community under a newly carved Backward Classes (C) category.

The petitioner submitted that reservation for the Jat community has been provided under the new act on the basis of the Justice KC Gupta commission report, which the Supreme Court has already quashed.

The counsel for the petitioner stated that providing reservation on the basis of the Gupta commission report tantamounts to the revision of a judicial order, which the legislature cannot do. According to the counsel, only the judiciary can revise the findings on an issue already decided in a judicial order.

The petition further said that in 2014 as well, the state government had introduced such a bill to include Jats in the list of other backward classes for reservation in jobs and educational institutes.

However, the Supreme Court, in the case of Ram Singh and others versus the Union of India, had held that Jats were not backward socially, educationally and politically.

The new act provides reservation for Jats and five other communities under the backward class (C) category. The five other communities include Jat Sikhs, Muslim Jats, Bishnois, Rors and Tyagis. All these communities would be entitled to 10 per cent reservation in government services and admission in educational institutions.

A petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Act initially came up for hearing before a bench headed by Justice Mahesh Grover of the High Court.

But taking up the matter, the bench observed that the issues raised by the petitioner were required to be decided by the PIL bench.

(With inputs from PTI)