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Andhra HC scraps 4.5 minority sub-quota
From Navin Mishra
On May 28 the Andhra Pradesh High Court scrapped the memorandum issued by the Union government carving out 4.5 per cent sub-quota for religious minorities from the 27 per cent Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota in public employment and education.

The ruling was handed down by a  division bench comprising Chief Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice P.V. Sanjay Kumar who allowed three public interest litigations filed by president of the AP BC Welfare Association R. Krishnaiah and others challenging the two official memorandums (OMs) issued by the Centre on December 22, 2011, providing reservations to Muslims, Christians, Buddhists as well as Zoroastrians notified under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 as religious minorities.

The bench observed that “in the absence of any material before us, and on the plain language of the official memorandums, it seems quite clear to us that the sub-quota has been created only on grounds of religion and nothing else.” “This is clearly impermissible in view of the specific language of Article 15 (1), as well as Article 16 (2) of the Constitution,” it added.

“In the absence of any factual basis, it seems to us that by making a special provision for religious minorities with regard to admission in some Central educational institutions and with regard to employment…, the Central government has exceeded the Constitutional boundaries,” the Bench said.

AP Backward Classes Welfare Association president R. Krishnaiah, who filed a petition in the High Court challenging the sub-quota, welcomed the verdict and said that it was a “slap on the Centre’s face”.

He said that the BCs had no objection if the government gave reservations for minority students by increasing the OBC quota by 4.5 per cent. However, they would not accept if a sub-quota was created within the 27 per cent OBC quota.

Of the total 9,647 seats in 15 IITs, ISM Dhanbad and IT-BHU, 443 were earmarked for minorities under the 4.5 per cent quota. A total of 391 Muslim candidates have been shortlisted for counselling. The highest rank of a Muslim candidate is said to be 159th.

As per the admissions schedule issued by IITs earlier, these students from the non-creamy layer have to submit a certificate/undertaking establishing their credentials by June 1. Counselling for them is to start from June 10. However, with the High Court orders, the IITs will be forced to stop counselling for these students.

A total 24,112 candidates among the nearly 5.6 lakh who sat for IIT-JEE 2012 have been shortlisted. Of them, 391 candidates are said to be Muslim.


 No SC relief to govt on 4.5% minority quota

From Our Correspondent
On June 11 the Supreme Court rejected the Union government request to stay the Andhra Pradesh High Court order dated May 28 quashing the 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities in educational institutions and government jobs.

The apex court instead pulled up the Union government, which had appealed against the High Court order, and pointed out that it had not presented before the court any material that would show how it had arrived at a figure of 4.5 per cent reservation.

The Supreme Court bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and J.S. Khehar was critical of the Ministry of Human Resource Development rushing to the apex court with the appeal against the Andhra the High Court order without documents to justify the policy of carving out 4.5 per cent sub-quota within the 27 per cent OBC reservation.

The Bench said it cannot stay the High Court order “unless the government produces material to show a detailed exercise was undertaken to carve out the sub-quota.”

The apex court refused to admit Union government appeal or to issue any notice till the Union government presented the records on the basis of which it had based its recommendation for the sub-quota. In its appeal, the Centre has contended that the Andhra Pradesh High Court has taken an erroneous view in striking down the provision despite the fact that the government decided to provide the sub-quota after an extensive survey. The Supreme Court has asked the Central government to produce records on June 13.

The Congress-led UPA government had announced the sub-quota of 4.5 per cent for socially and educationally backward people belonging to minority communities on December 22, 2011, ahead of key Assembly elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. It envisages carving this sub-quota out of the existing 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). Many political parties, including the BJP had objected to this.

On May 28 this year, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had struck down the government order on sub-quota for minorities, and held that the Centre acted in a "casual manner". The High Court said that the government Office Memorandum (OM) creating the sub-quota was based on religious grounds and not on any other intelligible consideration.

"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 bench had observed.

The Andhra High Court judgement triggered off a chain reaction and forced  Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to say that the government would move the Supreme Court against the order. The Centre is of the view that the issue cannot be delayed as counselling for the IITs will take place on June 13 and admissions are also on for various universities.

The Attorney General started submissions by taking the “blame on his shoulders” for the outcome of the sub-quota policy in the High Court by saying that the “argument was not the most brilliant.”

He sought some protection in view of the ongoing counselling for IITs for which 325 candidates had qualified for it under the 4.5 per cent sub quota and their career and future could be jeopardised if they are not allowed to appear for the counselling.

When Mr. Vahanvati said there was need for some protection in view of the ongoing counselling for IITs, the Bench said, “We will not order stay.”

“First of all you have not produced any documents in the High Court. We would have been happy, if you had done so,” the Bench said.

The Bench wanted to know from Mr. Vahanvati as to what was the basis and how did the government determine 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities.

When he sought to point out errors in the High Court order, the Bench said it was natural for the High Court to ask questions on which the Centre was complaining. The Bench, which was not in agreement with Mr. Vahanvati that the “High Court has gone completely wrong,” said “when the December 22, 2011 Office Memorandum (OM) (on 4.5 per cent sub-quota) reflected nothing, the High Court will ask questions.”

“Without placing documents, how can you find fault with the High Court [order],” the bench said adding that “where is the material and the High Court says nothing is produced.” When Mr. Vahanvati said the High Court also missed the 1993 notification on caste identification, the Bench wanted to know whether it was placed before it or not.


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