The apex court, which quashed the Centre's notification to grant reservation to "politically organised" Jats, said that though caste is a "prominent and distinguishing" factor for "easy determination of backwardness of a social group, it cannot be the sole ground for determining backwardness.

Social groups who would be most deserving must necessarily be a matter of continuous evolution. New practices, methods and yardsticks have to be continuously evolved moving away from caste-centric definition of backwardness SC added.

This alone can enable recognition of newly- emerging groups in society which would require palliative action.

"The recognition of the third gender as a socially and educationally backward class of citizens entitled to affirmative action of the state under the Constitution in National Legal Services Authority vs. Union of India is too significant a development to be ignored," a bench of justices
Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman said.

The court also said grant of OBC status to transgenders was "a path-finder, if not a path-breaker," and it is an important reminder to the state to discover emerging forms of backwardness.

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