The Andhra Pradesh High Court today quashed the 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities carved by the Centre out of the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Madan Lokur and Justice P V Sanjay Kumar set aside the sub-quota while observing that the governments decision was based on religious grounds and not any other consideration.
The verdict may affect admissions that have already taken place in central institutions like the IITs.
The bench criticised the Centre for handling the issue in a casual manner and set aside the order for the sub-quota in central educational institutions and jobs issued in December 2011,ahead of the assembly elections in five states.
The Centre will be challenging the high court order,Union Minister for Law and Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid told The Indian Express. The case is similar to an earlier one decided by the same high court, Khurshid said. That matter is pending. In this present case,there are some issues that have not been properly addressed by the court. We will seek redressal in the Supreme Court.
According to him,the high court view that the sub-quota was based on religious grounds and not on any other consideration was wrong. It is an affirmative action and is not based on any one religion, he said.
A PIL against the sub-quota had been filed by backward classes leader R Krishnaiah. As Chief Justice Lokur is to move to the Supreme Court following his elevation,the Bench today sat specially on the matter in spite of the summer vacation. The Bench had heard the arguments and reserved its judgment last month.
In defence of its order,the Centre argued that reservation to minorities was provided based on their backwardness and not on basis of religion. The sub-quota was meant for equitable distribution of benefits amongst communities concerned,it said.
Quashing the same,the Bench,however,said: We must express our anguish at the rather casual manner in which the entire issue has been taken up by the Central Government. No evidence has been shown to us by the learned Assistant Solicitor General to justify the classification of these religious minorities as a homogeneous group or as more backward classes deserving some special treatment… We must,therefore,hold that Muslims,Christians,Sikhs,Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) do not form a homogeneous group but a heterogeneous group.
The very use of the words belonging to minorities or for minorities indicates that the sub-quota has been carved out only on religious lines and not on any other intelligible basis,the bench observed. We have,therefore,no option but to set aside the carving out of a sub-quota of 4.5 per cent in favour of backward classes belonging to minorities out of the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs, the court said.
The Bench also pointed out that the Centre totally relied on the Sachar Committee report on Indian Muslims. It noted that while the panel went into the socio-economic conditions of Muslims,the government had relied on it to provide sub-quota to the minorities.