Editorial: A Judicial Slap For Mamata

Editorial: A Judicial Slap For Mamata

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Thursday, May 23, 2024, 09:28 PM IST
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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee | File

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has suffered a major setback when a two-member bench of the Calcutta High Court ordered the cancellation of nearly five lakh backward class certificates issued since 2010. These individuals belong mostly to the Muslim community, as they were classified as belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBCs). There is no bar on the inclusion of people belonging to any religious community among the OBCs, but the inclusion process should be transparent. For instance, the Mandal Commission report had included some Muslims like Ansaris in Uttar Pradesh as eligible for reservation. However, in West Bengal, the commission entrusted with the selection of OBCs was in a tearing hurry to implement a decision Banerjee announced at a public meeting. The judgment lists how the government circumvented all the formalities while issuing the certificates. Earlier, the court had struck down the appointment of a large number of teachers in violation of all established norms.

Unlike in the case of the teachers, some of whom got the jobs on merit, the beneficiaries of the OBC certificates who are already in jobs or pursuing education are not deprived of the benefit. The validity of the certificates ended the day the court gave its verdict. Given the hush-hush manner in which the 77 classes were declared OBCs, as highlighted in the verdict, it will be an uphill task for Banerjee to challenge it in the Supreme Court. The right step for the Trinamool Congress government is to select the classes eligible for reservation under the OBC quota afresh. Reservation is possible if a particular group of socially and educationally backward people has no representation in government jobs and academic institutions. She should be grateful to the court that it did not nullify the certificates with retrospective effect.

Allowance should also be made for the fact that the state government and the high court have been at loggerheads for quite some time. One of the judges, after giving many verdicts against the government, resigned from his job, joined the BJP, and is now contesting for the Lok Sabha. Another admitted on his day of superannuation that he was a member of the RSS and would now go back to the organisation and accept any responsibility given to him. This raises questions about the verdicts given by those judges. Be that as it may, the chief minister is duty-bound to uphold the Constitution while ruling the state.

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