Hyderabad: Centre on Tuesday announced that it will challenge the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s rejection of its proposal to create a 4.5% sub-quota for notified minority groups in the apex court.
Addressing a press conference in the national capital, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid said, “The Andhra Pradesh order on minority sub quota is not a setback for the Centre and we have decided to challenge it in the Supreme Court.”
The Law Minister, while defending the government’s proposal to create a 4.5% sub-quota for notified minority groups out of the 27% reservation meant for OBCs (Other Backward Classes), said, “The Centre will file a Special Leave Petition in this regard in the apex court soon.”
Khurshid also stated that 4.5% reservation is not unconstitutional as the Constitution does not say that minorities can’t be a category.
“Sub quota is not meant for any particular religious group but for minorities and 4.5% reservation is proportional to the number of backwards in the country,” he said, adding that government is firm on creating a sub quota for the most backwards among other backward castes.
The reaction from the Union Law Minister came a day after the Andhra Pradesh High Court rejected the Centre’s move to create a sub-quota for minorities on religion basis.
A division bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice PV Sanjay Kumar said that there was no rationale in providing reservation to minorities on the basis of religion.
The division bench passed its order in response to a PIL challenging the creation of a 4.5% sub-quota for notified minority groups, including Muslims, out of the 27 percent reservation meant for OBCs (Other Backward Classes).
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 while setting aside the sub-quota.
The division bench said, "In fact, 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," it observed.
Shortly after the verdict was pronounced, the Congress treaded cautiously, saying the court judgement has to be read and understood.
"You cannot react to court judgments until you have perused, read, understood and appreciated.(We can comment)....After we receive copy of the judgment", party spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters in Delhi.
Backward community leader R Krishnaiah and others had filed separate petitions in the HC challenging the central government’s decision to create sub-quota.
The Centre has earlier defended its decision stating that reservation to minorities was provided based on their backwardness but not on basis of religion and the sub-quota was meant for equitable distribution of benefits amongst communities concerned.
With PTI Inputs