Kerala likely to face fresh challenge in drawing up SEBC list

It remains to be seen if LDF govt will maintain status quo or disturb the equilibrium

Kerala is likely to face a new challenge in drawing up its list of Socially and Economically Backward Classes (SEBC), with both Houses of Parliament adopting the Bill that restores the rights of States to maintain their Other Backward Classes (OBC) list.

It remains to be seen whether the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government will maintain status quo or disturb the equilibrium after the Kerala High Court recently put on hold its decision to include the Christian Nadar community in OBC category. At present, the grouping of OBC mentioned in the Kerala Public Service Commission are Ezhavas, Thiyyas and Billavas; Muslims; Latin Catholics and Anglo Indians; Nadars (Hindu Nadars and Nadars included in South India United Church (SIUC) Scheduled Caste Converts to Christianity; Viswakarmas and Dheevaras.

Sources said that the government would have to draw up the criteria to include more communities in the SEBC list based on the new legislation. At the same time, it would have to be cautious not to exclude any castes from the list as the restructuring of the reservation quota would also have a huge electoral impact in future.

The Left government had decided to include Nadars belonging to Christian religious denominations other than the SIUC in the OBC list for the purpose of providing employment and educational benefits. And the decision was taken before the Assembly polls in April.

The significance of the votes based on religion and caste in Kerala’s electoral spectrum, as in other States, can be ascertained when the Congress leadership welcomed the Cabinet decision on the Nadar Christian quota, while it also raised doubts on how the community would benefit when 80 communities are already in the OBC list of the State.

The BJP government at the Centre was compelled to bring the Constitution Amendment Bill after the Supreme Court dismissed the review petition for a separate quota for the Maratha community in Maharashtra.

However, the 127th Constitution Amendment Act, 2021 that restored the power of States to identify the SEBC could be subjected to Supreme Court scrutiny even if President Ram Nath Kovind assented to it, sources said.

Incidentally, the Left government had earlier also approved 10% reservation in government jobs, as well as admissions in educational institutions, for the Economically Weaker Sections in the general category, who are generally not in the reservation category.

Although family income and economic backwardness are considered parameters in deciding the eligibility for reservation, most often, many candidates have been deprived of getting educational and employment benefits.

This was because the upper sections, including candidates belonging to business families and Non Resident Indians of the SEBC, managed to secure non-creamy layer certificates from the Revenue Department and reaped the quota benefits, the sources said.

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