SC refuses to grant relief on minority reservation,

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Ray, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    Quota govt caught short on homework

    - SC refuses to grant relief on minority reservation, asks if Centre has done the exercise

    New Delhi, June 11: The Supreme Court today took a dim view of the Centre’s move to introduce a 4.5 per cent sub-quota for backward minorities without conducting the necessary due diligence and refused to stay Andhra Pradesh High Court’s order quashing its implementation.

    The bench also had harsh words for the government for challenging the high court’s May 28 order without adequate homework.

    The top court declined to stay the order, effectively stymieing any move to introduce the sub-quota in central institutions such as the IITs while an appeal was pending.

    “We must have something before us before we can entertain your plea,” Justice J.S. Khehar, sitting alongside Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan, told attorney-general G.E. Vahanvati when he pleaded for a stay on the order that had set aside the sub-quota.

    The Centre had last year announced the 4.5 per cent minority sub-quota within the existing 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in government jobs and central educational institutions.

    The announcement had come ahead of several key Assembly elections, especially in a state like Uttar Pradesh, which has a substantial minority population.

    The high court last month set aside the sub-quota, saying it was based on religious grounds.

    Vahanvati tried in vain to convince the court to stay the high court order. He initially tried to claim parity with states like Karnataka and Kerala, saying such sub-quotas for Muslims within backward segments already exist.

    But the bench insisted on more details before it could take a call, and adjourned the case till Wednesday to allow the law officer to produce documents to show that the government had done adequate background work before carving out such a quota.

    Earlier orders from the apex court had made it mandatory for governments to conduct surveys to prove that certain segments were socially and educationally backward and were not adequately represented in government services before they could be given the benefit of reservation as backward classes.

    The bench pulled up the Centre for issuing the December 22 office memorandum announcing the sub-quota without undertaking any such detailed exercise. “We are unhappy that you have not done your exercise before going for (the) 4.5 per cent sub-quota reservation,” the court said.

    The court asked the attorney-general if the issue had “ever” been referred to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) or the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) before the sub-quota’s introduction.

    “What is the exercise you have done before ear-marking 4.5 per cent sub-quota for Muslims? Was it ever referred to the NCBC or the NCM? Can we overlook these statutory bodies?” the court asked. “Today you have earmarked 4.5 per cent. Tomorrow you will carve out another 4.5 per cent,” Justice Radhakrishnan observed.

    Vahanvati said referring the issue to the NCBC or the NCM was “not required and was not necessary”.

    He also criticised the high court order, prompting the bench to observe: “How can you fault the HC when you did not place relevant material before it? You have not done the exercise and you are blaming the HC.”

    The high court would have seen it differently had the entire material been placed before it, the judges said.

    The court refused to stay the high court order after the Centre pleaded that it would create difficulties for 325 students shortlisted by the IITs under the 4.5 per cent backward minority sub-quota.

    Many of these shortlisted candidates would fail to get seats in the premier tech schools if the sub-quota is scrapped as the 434 seats reserved under this category would merge with the main pool of seats set aside for OBCs.

    At one point, Justice Radhakrishnan wondered if the 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities, based on the 1993 list, would in any way affect the overall 27 per cent OBC reservation. Vahanvati conceded that the sub-quota marginally affected the OBC quota.

    The 1993 list had identified backward castes within Muslims to be included in reserved categories.

    In this context, the bench referred to the implications of such a sub-quota on the constitutional scheme of things, including Article 15 which prohibits any discrimination on grounds like religion, race and gender.

    The Supreme Court has in a series of judgments clarified that the twin tests would be social and educational backwardness and inadequate representation in state services. The true test would be backwardness, not caste alone.

    By the same logic, any sub-quota for minorities would have to be purely on the basis of backwardness, religion being incidental.

    The Andhra high court had quashed the sub-quota, saying the office memorandum creating it was based on religious grounds, rather than on any constitutional consideration.

    High court chief justice Madan B. Lokur (now a Supreme Court judge) and Justice P.V. Sanjay Kumar had held that the government could not justify the classification of religious minorities as a homogeneous group or prove that they fell in the category of more backward classes deserving special treatment.

    Quota govt caught short on homework

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