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SC questions basis of 4.5% quota for minorities

The SC on Monday rapped the UPA government over the 4.5% reservation for minorities within the 27% OBC quota in the central educational institutions.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday rapped the UPA government over the 4.5% reservation for minorities within the 27% OBC quota in the central educational institutions.

Hearing the government’s plea against the Andhra Pradesh High Court order quashing the sub-quota, the apex court expressed its displeasure over the government`s casual handling of the "complex" and "sensitive" issue.

A bench of justices KS Radhakrishnan and JS Khehar said it was "unhappy" that the Centre filed an appeal without any supporting documents.

It further asked the Centre on what basis was the reservation implemented.
Refusing to stay the Andhra HC order, the SC observed the government has yet to show the court how it arrived at the 4.5% figure.

The government had sought an interim relief in the form of stay on the order so that admissions in central admissions including the IITs could proceed.

Attorney General GE Vahanvati submitted that some protection should be granted as the counselling for IITs was on and 325 candidates have qualified for it under the 4.5% sub-quota and their career and future could be jeopardised if they are not allowed to appear for the counselling.

The apex court further directed the Centre’s counsel, AG Vahanvati, to bring documents related to the decision on Wednesday when the court will resume hearing the plea.

In its appeal, the Centre has contended that the High Court had taken an erroneous view in striking down the provision despite the decision to provide the quota was done after an extensive survey.

The HC had on May 28 held that the Centre acted in a "casual manner" in granting the 4.5% sub-quota to minorities, carving it out of 27% OBC reservation.

It had said the Office Memorandum (OM) creating the sub-quota was based on religious grounds and not on any other intelligible consideration.

The December 22, 2011 OM for a 4.5% sub-quota for socially and educationally backward classes of citizens belonging to minority communities out of the 27% reservation for OBCs in central educational institutions and jobs was announced by the Centre ahead of the Assembly Elections in five states including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

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 HC bench observed while setting aside the sub-quota.

"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 had observed.

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