Justice Markandey Katju-
OBC ( Other Backward Castes ) youth are complaining that the Medical Council of India has denied reservations to OBCs for decades in the centrally pooled seats ( 15% of state surrendered seats ) for admission in MBBS courses in medical colleges in India.
My respectful, submission is that whatever the merit of the reservation for SCs ( Scheduled Castes ) in educational institutions and government jobs, reservation for OBCs is pure fraud.
Many years back when I was Chief Justice of Madras High Court I was in the National Law School University, Bangalore to attend a function, where Justice BP Jeevan Reddy, who had retired as a Supreme Court Judge, was also present. Justice Reddy had given the main judgment in the 9 Judge Constitution Bench verdict of the Supreme Court in Indira Sawhney vs Union of India, AIR 1993 477 which upheld the decision of the VP Singh govt implementing the Mandal Commission recommendation for granting reservations to OBCs in India.
During dinner with Justice Reddy ( who was much senior to me, and whom I respect ) I told him that his judgment upholding reservations for OBCs was not correct. He asked me why?
I replied that before Independence in 1947 zamindari system prevailed in most of India under British rule. At that time, the zamindars ( landlords ) were mostly upper castes, and their tenants were OBCs like Yadavas and Kurmis. These Yadavas, kurmis, etc were at that time ( i.e. before Independence ) very poor and almost all illiterate.
However, after Independence zamindari was abolished by the zamindari abolition acts ( e.g. the UP Zamindari Abolition Act, 1951 ). Consequently, the upper castes lost their zamindari rights, and their tenants, i.e. Yadavas, Kurmis, etc became bhumidhars. With the income coming from the land they got they educated their children, and now many Yadavas, Kurmis etc are doctors, engineers, lawyers, scientists, teachers etc. In other words, they are no longer backward as they used to be before 1947 ( of course there are still many OBCs who are poor, but there are many poor even among the upper castes ).
The Mandal Commission recommendations granting reservation to OBCs was implemented only in 1993 after the judgment in Indira Sawhney’s case. But in 1993 Yadavas, Kurmis, etc could no longer be called backward ( as explained above ), even though they were backward before 1947. So when the OBCs were really backward ( i.e. before Independence ) they got no reservation, but when they were no longer backward ( i.e. in 1993 ) they were being given reservations. Was this not a fraud, and just designed to get votes ?
I explained all this to Justice Reddy, and he said that these facts were not placed before the bench hearing the case. All the judges had before them was the Mandal Commission Report, which they had to accept as a report of experts.
I replied that what is done is done, but the truth is what I have explained, and that reservation for OBCs in India was a total fraud.
[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own].