Union minister faults UP move to expand SC list

The Centre has described Uttar Pradesh’s decision to include 17 other backward class (OBC) groups in the list of Scheduled Castes (SCs) as “unconstitutional” and pointed out that proper procedure was not followed by the Yogi Adityanath government in pushing through with the move.

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Union minister for social justice and empowerment, Thawar Chand Gehlot, said that including OBC castes in the list of SCs is the exclusive domain of Parliament. He also sought a status report from the Adityanath government and asked it to send a proposal to the Centre on the matter.

Gehlot’s statement came in response to a submission made by Satish Chandra Misra of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) during Zero Hour, a period when members can raise issues of importance without prior notice to the chairman of the Upper House.

On June 24, the Uttar Pradesh directed district magistrates and commissioners across the state to issue SC certificates to members of 17 OBC groups – Nishad, Bind, Mallah, Kewat, Kashyap, Bhar, Dhivar, Batham, Machua, Prajapati, Rajbhar, Kahar, Pottar, Dhimar, Manjhi, Tuhaha and Gaur.

“The order that they [UP government] have issued now is not correct, it is unconstitutional. I urge them not to issue any certificates based on this order otherwise the issue will be sent to court,” Gehlot said.

In the Rajya Sabha, Misra opposed the move on the grounds that Article 341, clause (2) of the Constitution specifies that the power to make changes in the SC list lies only with Parliament. “…Even the President does not have the power to tinker, alter or make changes [in the list],” he told the House.

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