The Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government on Friday announced that it will bring a law to give five per cent reservation to Muslims in educational institutes.
The announcement was made by Minister for Minority Affairs Nawab Malik at the Legislative Council. In 2014, the Congress-NCP government had passed an Ordinance allowing five per cent reservation for Muslims in jobs and educational institutes in the state. The Bombay High Court, where the decision was challenged, had upheld reservation for Muslims in government and government-aided educational institutes but not in jobs. However, the Devendra Fadnavis government, which subsequently came to power, had allowed the Ordinance to lapse, as it did not convert it into a law.
Replying to a question raised by Congress’ Sharad Ranpise, Malik said at the Council: “The five per cent reservation given in educational institutes to Muslims in 2014 has been upheld by the HC. The government will bring a law soon to provide the reservation.”
Maintaining that the government will bring a law that will be valid as per the Constitution and stand scrutiny in court, he added: “The government will take appropriate decision on bringing the law before school admissions begin in June.”
In a written reply to a starred question on Muslim reservation by Ranpinse, Malik said the state had given five per cent reservation to Muslims in government jobs and educational institutes through an Ordinance in July 2014. “…Petitions were filed against it and the HC, in its interim order in November 2014, had upheld five per cent reservation in government and government-aided educational institutes. But it had stayed the reservation given in private educational institutes and government jobs,” he added.
Malik further said that the Ordinance had lapsed in November 2014, as it was not converted into a law. At present, reservation in jobs and educational institutions in Maharashtra is at 75 per cent and 74 per cent, respectively.
“Leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi will collectively take a call on policy decision like giving reservation to any community. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will take appropriate decisions at right time. No decision has been taken yet,” Eknath Shinde, Urban Development Minister and senior Sena leader, told mediapersons.
Anil Parab, Parliamentary Affairs Minister and Sena leader, said: “Whatever decision is taken by the leaders of Maha Vikas Aghadi will be acceptable to all of us.”
However, the Opposition BJP said that giving reservation to Muslims will impact the existing quota of OBCs and Marathas. “The Constitution does not provide for quota based on religion. Any attempt to given reservation to Muslims would indirectly impact the existing quota of OBCs and Maratha community in Maharashtra,” said Devendra Fadnavis, the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly.
The common minimum programme, formulated by the three ruling parties — Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress — before forming the government last year, mentioned that “the government shall adopt various schemes to eliminate the social, educational and economic backwardness of the minority community and implement Constitutional safeguards for its security welfare in letter and spirit”. The Sena, in its manifesto for the Assembly polls, had also promised the same.
Just before the Assembly elections in 2014, on July 11, the erstwhile Congress-NCP government had issued the Ordinance allowing 16 per cent reservation for Marathas and 5 per cent for Muslims in government-run schools/colleges and jobs. It had decided to provide 5 per cent reservation to 50 Muslims communities by including them under the newly formed Special Backward Category-A.
The decision was challenged in HC and the state subsequently saw a change in government. The HC, meanwhile, in its order on November 2014, struck down Maratha reservation but allowed 5 per cent reservation for Muslims in education. The BJP-led government went on to formally scrap reservation for Muslims in spite of the HC agreeing to the fact that Muslims were eligible for reservation in education. The BJP had then said that it is against providing reservation on the ground of religion.
The Mehmood-ur-Rahman Committee, set up by the Congress-NCP government to look into the socio-economic condition of Muslims in Maharashtra, had recommended reservation for the community in 2013. In its report, it had recommended eight per cent reservation in education and housing — both public and private. It had also asked for an anti-discrimination Act for Muslims on the lines of the atrocity Act. Further, it had demanded that a special commission be set up to inquire into the large number of Muslims in detention and recommended that the minority department should monitor detention of community members in terror and riot cases.
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