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OBC Certificates for 37 Communities in West Bengal Invalidated by Calcutta High Court

Calcutta High Court Invalidates OBC Certificates for 37 Communities Under 2012 West Bengal Act

The Calcutta High Court invalidated the classification of 37 communities as Other Backward Classes (OBC) under the West Bengal Backward Classes (Other than Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) (Reservation of Vacancies in Services and Posts) Act, 2012. This ruling came in the case of Amal Chandra Das vs State of West Bengal.

A division bench, comprising Justices Tapabrata Chakraborty and Rajasekhar Mantha, annulled these OBC certificates issued under the Act. However, the bench clarified that this decision would not impact individuals who have already benefited or secured employment under the 2012 Act.

The court declared Section 16 of the 2012 Act invalid because it allowed the State Executive to unilaterally amend the Act’s schedules. As a result, the 37 communities added under this section were removed from Schedule 1 of the Act. The bench also invalidated various executive orders by which the State had classified these communities as OBCs for reservation purposes in public service.

Additionally, the court directed the West Bengal Backward Class Welfare Department, in collaboration with the State Backward Class Commission, to present a report to the State legislature. This report should recommend which communities should be included or excluded from the State’s OBC list.

The court ensured that the status and services of individuals from these 37 communities, who are already employed by the State or have benefited from reservations, would remain unaffected.

The judgment criticized the 2012 scheme for lacking a clear legislative policy to guide the State’s authority in classifying OBCs. It mandated that the State establish a legislative policy before delegating its authority in this matter. Furthermore, the court emphasized that if the State wishes to exercise its discretion under Article 16(4) of the Constitution, it must provide quantifiable data demonstrating the backwardness and inadequate representation of the class in public employment, adhering to precedents set by the Supreme Court.

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