14 states against Centre's plan to sub-categorise Scheduled Castes

The overwhelming opposition from states gains significance as a seven-member Supreme Court bench is set to re-examine the politically contentious issue.

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Fourteen states, including BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, have opposed the Centre’s proposal to sub-categorise Scheduled Castes and only seven have supported the move. The overwhelming opposition from states gains significance as a seven-member Supreme Court bench is set to re-examine the politically contentious issue. As per ministry of social justice and empowerment, 20 states and two union territories have responded to the Centre’s proposal on sub-categorisation of SCs.

Significantly, states of Assam, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Odisha, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarkhand, West Bengal and Delhi have opposed the move. Only seven states have favoured the sub-categorisation. These include Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Telangana and Punjab. The seven include Andhra Pradesh and Punjab – two states that have initially moved proposals on sub-categorisation in different forms. Union territory of Chandigarh has offered no comments in the matter.

The ministry of social justice and empowerment had sought the opinion of states following a resolution from Andhra Pradesh (which was united then) Assembly in December 2004 with a request to take up matter of sub-categorisation of Scheduled Castes in Parliament. The resolution had followed Supreme Court’s E V Chinnaiah judgement in 2004 which had ruled sub-categorisation of SCs or quota within quota as unconstitutional. Congress-led UPA had tried to find a way around the issue and a national commission was constituted to examine the issue of sub-categorisation of SCs in Andhra Pradesh. The commission submitted its report in May 2008 recommending amendment of Article 341 of the Constitution to provide for sub-categorisation of SCs. In 2011, the ministry of social justice and empowerment began the process of seeking comments from the states.


In a reply to a Lok Sabha question posed by AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi, the ministry of social justice and empowerment replied on Sunday, “The states opposed to the sub-categorisation are of the view that instead of sub-categorisation, proper mechanism should be devised to empower the poorest of the poor amongst the SCs through special schemes aimed at their social, educational and economic empowerment.” However, the major states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra, which have a considerable SC population, have not responded. The Centre also said there was no meeting planned with the state governments on the issue and the proposal has not been clubbed with the matter of creamy layer of Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

The chronology of events
2004 Five-member Supreme Court bench rules against sub-categorisation of SCs in E V Chinnaiah case
2004 Andhra Pradesh Assembly passes resolution asking Centre to examine sub-categorisation
2006 Punjab had moved to give preferential treatment to Balmikis and Mazhabi Sikhs amongst Scheduled Castes
2008 A national commission recommended sub categorisation of SCs
2011 The government started taking opinion of states
2020 Five judge bench, examining Punjab government’s Act, ruled sub categorisation can be undertaken by states
2020 Centre tells Parliament 13 states and one UT have opposed the move

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