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Quota can’t be on religious basis: SC
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, June 13
The Supreme Court today refused to provide any relief to the government on the controversial 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities even as the Centre clarified that the reservation would be restricted to students belonging to the most backward classes among the Sikhs, Christians and the Muslims.

In a last-ditch effort, the government pleaded with the SC to at least allow the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to provisionally implement the reservation provision for the 2012-13 academic year as the counselling started today.

However, a Bench comprising Justices KS Radhakrishnan and JS Khehar refused to stay, partially or otherwise, the May 28, 2012, Andhra Pradesh High Court verdict striking down the December 22, 2011, executive order offering the sub-quota, carved out from the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in educational institutions.

Nevertheless, the Bench issued notice to the petitioners, R Krishnaiah and others, who had successfully challenged the government order in the HC, seeking their response to the appeal by the government.

“Can you make the classification on the basis of religion” for offering the 4.5 per cent sub-quota, the Bench asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Gourab Banerji who argued for an hour, seeking to justify the government order.

The ASG said the sub-quota was not meant for all minority communities. It was essentially for the “lowest band among the Muslims and some sections of Christians and Sikhs”. All these sections were already on the Centre’s OBC list, endorsed by the SC. As the OBC list contained 2,343 classes and categories, the most backward among them were unable to compete with others and benefit from the reservation, the ASG said.

The Bench wanted to know as to how the government arrived at 4.5 per cent.

The ASG said the Mandal Commission had in fact suggested 10 per cent sub-quota and similar views had been expressed by the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM) and the Rajinder Sachar Committee that had gone into the social, economic and educational status of Muslims across the country.

The ASG clarified that for availing themselves of the sub-quota benefit, the student should be from any of the socially and educationally backward classes, besides belonging to any of the three minority communities.

The immediate impact

Following the SC order, the students ranked separately under the special sub-quota in over 70 Central educational institutions will be at a disadvantage this year. In the IITs alone, 325 minority students will be unable to get courses of their choice as they will now have to compete alongside the larger pool of selected OBC students.





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