The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday directed the government of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh to ensure that no fresh caste certificates are issued to those belonging to 17 Other Backward Classes (OBC) groups which the state cabinet had last month decided to include among the Scheduled Castes.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice D B Bhosle and Justice Yashwant Verma passed the order on a public interest litigation filed by a Gorakhpur-based organisation Dr Ambedkar Granthalaya Evam Jan Kalyan Samiti, challenging the Akhilesh Yadav government's decision to include the 17 OBC groups in SC catergory.
The move was criticised by opposition parties as a populist step taken by the ruling Samajwadi Party ahead of the Assembly polls in the state.
Appearing on behalf of the state government, Advocate General Vijay Bahadur Singh submitted that the recommendation of the state government has been sent to the Centre for approval by Parliament and in the meantime no fresh caste certificates have been issued in the light of the notification.
The court, while issuing the direction, also asked the state government to file its counter affidavit within two weeks.
Earlier, hearing a PIL raising similar objection over the state government's move on January 12, the court had sought reply from the state government and fixed February 9 as the next date of hearing in the matter.