The Centre Tuesday termed as "inappropriate" the BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government's move to include 17 communities belonging to OBCs in the Scheduled Castes (SC) list and said only Parliament has the right to make changes in caste lists.
"The order that they (UP government) have issued now is not appropriate, not in accordance with the Constitution.
"I will request you not to issue caste certificates based on the order, else the matter will go to courts, it will be struck down and nobody will get benefit," Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said in the Rajya Sabha after the matter was raised by BSP member Satish Chandra Misra during the Zero Hour.
The Uttar Pradesh government had on June 24 directed district magistrates and commissioners to issue caste certificates to 17 OBCs - Kashyap, Rajbhar, Dhivar, Bind, Kumhar, Kahar, Kewat, Nishad, Bhar, Mallah, Prajapati, Dhimar, Batham, Turha, Godia, Manjhi and Machua.
Gehlot said if the UP government wants to go ahead with its proposal, it should follow the procedure and send a proposal to the Centre.
"We would then consider it," he said.
Gehlot further said the order of the UP government was not in accordance with the Constitution.
He asked the state government not to issue certificates based on the order else the matter may go to court.
The minister, who is also leader of the Rajya Sabha, said shifting of one category to another caste category is the right of Parliament.
In the past also, three-four similar proposals were sent to Parliament, but not agreed upon, he noted.
Gehlot further said the state government should have followed proper procedure.
Earlier raising the matter, Misra said under Article 341 sub clause (2) of the Constitution, the power to make changes in the SC list lies only with Parliament.
"Even President (of India) does not have the power to tinker, alter or make changes (in the list)," he said, adding these 17 castes will neither get benefits meant for OBCs nor SCs since a state government has no power to make any alteration to the SC list.
He said the BSP was in favour of including 17 castes under SC but only after following prescribed procedure and increasing SC quota proportionately.
"The power of Parliament cannot be upsurged by a state," he said.
The BSP leader wanted the Centre to issue an advisory to the Uttar Pradesh government to withdraw the "unconstitutional order", saying it is harming castes.
The BJP government in UP is not the first to move on the 17 most backward castes in the OBC list. In 2005, the SP government of Mulayam Singh Yadav passed the first order to include 11 of these castes but the order was stayed and the proposal sent to the Centre.
Subsequently, the BSP government of Mayawati quashed the notification.
The BSP later said these castes could be included in the SC list provided the SC quota is increased.
The SP government of Akhilesh Yadav cleared the inclusion proposal ahead of the 2017 assembly elections but it was challenged and is in court.
Misra said Article 341 provides that the President specify castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups to be Scheduled Castes after Parliament may by law include or exclude from the list of Scheduled Castes.
The move by the Adityanath government comes ahead of by-elections to 12 Assembly seats in the State.