Give Backward Class status to Kodavas: High Court to State Govt.
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Give Backward Class status to Kodavas: High Court to State Govt.

December 15, 2021

Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court (HC) has directed the State Government to accept the recommendation given by the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes in 2010, which recommended certain benefits of reservation be extended to Kodava community.

It directed the Government to accept the recommendations made by the Commission to use words “Kodava,” “Kodavaru” instead of “Kodagaru” in the list of Backward Classes and issue a notification in this regard within three months.

The Court passed the order while allowing a petition filed by Codava National Council (CNC), Madikeri. The Court refused to give one more chance to the Government to re-examine the issue while pointing out that the Government had “mechanically reiterated” its earlier decision of 2015 to reject the recommendations despite an opportunity given by the Court in August this year for reconsidering the 2015 decision.

Though the Government had claimed that it had rejected recommendations as the “competent authority” did not approve the changes, the Court observed that the Government had failed to point out which that competent authority was.

The purpose of the recommendation was to enable the members of the community to avail benefits of reservation under category 3-A.

Commission advice binding

“The advice of the Commission being as clear as Gangetic waters, this recommendation was made after thoroughly examining the representation of the petitioner and the inputs received from all the relevant quarters. The Government could not have declined to accept the  advice of the Commission on the sole ground that someone called ‘Competent  Authority’ has not approved the same,”             the Court said.

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The petitioner’s counsel cited Section 9(2) of the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1995, saying the advice of the Commission shall ordinarily be binding on the Government. The Government advocate said that since the provision uses the word “ordinarily”, it is open to the Government to accept the advice or not.

“In justifiable cases, that the Government may not accept the advice is also true. However, for not accepting, it has to offer cogent and compelling reasons. Otherwise, as a norm, advice has to be accepted,” Justice   Krishna Dixit said.

Not East India Company

The Court also noted that there was a direction issued earlier by the HC in this regard. “The Government cannot treat advice of a Commission of this stature as being susceptible to the views of another unknown authority. Ours is a ‘Welfare State’ and not the East India Company. What bewilders this Court is the reiteration of the same stand with the duplication of the text of the order, despite a direction issued by a Co-ordinate Bench,” it said.

The Government has been directed to file a compliance report to the Registrar General within three months, failing which it has warned of heavy costs.

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