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Yogi Adityanath may have ignored BSP supremo Mayawati’s criticism of his government’s move to issue Scheduled Caste (SC) certificates to 17 OBC castes as ‘unconstitutional’, but it was told off a day later by the Narendra Modi government at the Centre today (Tuesday, July 2).

The Centre has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to stop issuing SC certificates to 17 OBC castes. Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Tawar Chand Gehlot, speaking in Rajya Sabha, termed the state government’s move as “not appropriate” and “unconstitutional”.

Making a short statement in the Upper House of the Parliament, Gehlot said including OBC castes in the SC list is in the domain of Parliament and asked the state government to follow proper procedures.

Citing a 2017 observation of the Allahabad High Court, the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh (UP) had directed officials to issue SC certificates to 17 OBC castes “after examination and based on documents in accordance with the rules”.

The June 24 direction was to include 17 OBC castes — Kashyap, Rajbhar, Dhivar, Bind, Kumhar, Kahar, Kewat, Nishad, Bhar, Mallah, Prajapati, Dhimar, Batham, Turha, Godia, Manjhi and Machua — among the Schedule Castes.

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Mayawati yesterday slammed Yogi Adityanath government over the move saying, “It’s a fraud with people belonging to these 17 castes, as they won’t receive the benefits of any of the categories as UP govt will not treat them as OBCs. And they won’t receive the benefits of belonging to SC as no state govt can put them in or remove them from any of the categories through its orders.”

She also said that it was her party that had written to the Centre in 2017 over this issue. “Our party had written to the then Congress government at Centre in 2007 that these 17 castes be added to Scheduled Castes category and that Scheduled Castes category reservation quota be increased. So that benefits received by castes in SC category don’t diminish & the 17 castes that’ll be added to the category also receive benefits. Had made such demands in past. Saddening that neither current govt at Centre nor the then govt at Centre did anything about it,” Mayawati added.

SC groups fear that such a move might impact their quota as the new entrants will consume their share if the reservation limit is not expanded.

Adityanath government’s move seems intended to give the BJP an edge in the upcoming assembly bypolls in 12 constituencies in the state in the wake of several MLAs getting elected to the Lok Sabha in the recent parliamentary elections.

According to officials in the Union social justice and empowerment ministry, reported The Hindustan Times (HT), the move is illegal and can be challenged in the court.

“Any amendment to the list of SCs can be made only by an Act of Parliament, in view of clause (2) of Article 341 of Constitution. Anything other than that is ultra vires,” an official told HT.

“This is not the first time such attempt is made by the Uttar Pradesh government. Previous governments [of Mulayam Singh and Akhilesh Yadav] also tried to change the category of these communities. But the Allahabad high court quashed the moves as the registrar general of India (RGI) did not approve of them. As per the law, if the RGI has refused to allow the change even after the second reference, then it cannot be sent for consideration a third time,” another official told HT.

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