No preference to BCs with income up to Rs3 lakh, says High Court
Exactly two years after the Haryana Government issued a notification, sub-classifying Backward Classes (BCs) for granting preference to those with annual income up to Rs 3 lakh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday set aside the same before ordering fresh counselling for MBBS courses.
The ruling came after the Bench of Justice Mahesh Grover and Justice Mahabir Singh Sindhu was told that the impugned notification dated August 7, 2016, contemplated that children belonging to Backward Classes having gross annual income of up to Rs 3 lakh would get the benefit of reservation in services and admission in educational institutions first. The left-out quota would go to category of Backward Classes annually earning more than Rs 3 lakh, but up to Rs 6 lakh.
Taking up petitions by Nisha and other MBBS aspirants, the Bench asserted that social advancement of a caste or a group would have to be identified on empirical data. It could not be assumed straightway that those with income above Rs 3 lakh would have unshackled social backwardness. Such an exclusion from within the identified BCs could not stand the test of constitutional requirement.
The Bench asserted: “The end result is that the state has given a benefit with one hand only to take it away with the other. There is absolutely no established correlation between the socially backward and the economic deprived. We are of the opinion that the impugned notification has to be held bad in law and deserves to be set aside.”
The Bench asserted the state faltered in prescribing the criteria as it was not substantiated by any verifiable data to establish social backwardness of classes that stood to benefit. By virtue of an earlier notification, the state had quoted certain sections of the society as backward on the basis of their caste and occupation. It limited the benefit to creamy layer earning up to Rs 6 lakh. “This ostensibly was done on the basis of Government of India’s classification of economic criteria,” said the Bench.
The Bench added it would be difficult to say that one with an income of Rs 3 lakh was more favourably placed than the one with less than Rs 3 lakh income in terms of social status or vocation. Once it was accepted that certain categories, though identified as backward, would be treated as creamy layer with income exceeding Rs 6 lakh, further sub-classification without inputs could be termed as arbitrary, ensuring reverse discrimination which closed doors of equitable distribution.