Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Centre urges Rohini Commission to share interim OBC report

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The Centre has requested the Rohini Commission, constituted for sub-categorisation of OBCs and review of central list, to share its interim report or suggestions so that it can notify a central OBC list expeditiously to comply with a Supreme Court order.

The commission may have shared some inputs with the Centre but a final decision on notification of the central list is yet to be taken, ET has learnt.

With assembly elections to UP around the corner, any OBC sub-categorisation or inclusion/exclusion could have an electoral impact and hence the political timing of the notification is likely to be deliberated.

The central OBC list — for determining communities which are entitled for 27% reservations to central government jobs and educational institutes — was last notified with significant revisions in 2016. The Rohini Commission on OBC sub categorisation was set up in 2017, but the Centre gave it an additional mandate of reviewing central list and recommend corrections for repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies in 2020.

The massive exercise has become key to notification of a revised central OBC list. Revising the list without the panel’s inputs could be questioned by stakeholders.

The restoration of states’ power to draw up its OBC list is also significant, especially for poll bound states.

UP has been mulling as many as 40 additions to the state OBC list. Some of them could figure in the Rohini panel report or suggestions to the Centre. Representations from UP have questioned inclusion of Hindu weaver Bunkar, Muslim weaver Julaha, Baheliya and Aheriyas in the central list. There is also a suggestion for refining the Muslim Kayashta caste.

In a May order related to the Maratha quota, the SC had ruled that only the Centre was empowered to draw up an OBC list. It had also asked the Centre to expeditiously notify the list. The Centre amended the law to restore power on states to draw up state OBC lists. But the issue of notifying the central list is still pending.

With the panel tasked to ensure equitable distribution of the 27% OBC quota in government jobs and educational institutes among all OBCs, the new socio-political reality could have ramifications in several states. As per February 2021 formula, the commission was working on a proposal to divide 2,633 OBCs in the central list into four subcategories to help reach quota benefits to over 2,000 OBC deprived groups. The bulk of the panel’s work has been wrapped up but some loose ends on de-duplication of caste groups and reconciliation with state assessments remain.

The panel is headed by retired Delhi HC chief justice Rohini and has on board Centre for Policy Studies director JK Bajaj, apart from Anthropological Survey director and the Registrar General and Census Commissioner. The panel is on its 11th extension.

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