UPA government had tried to bring this sub-quota by announcing it in 2011. The Centre had last moved the SC in 2012 for interim relief as admission process had already begun for hat year. But SC had refused to change its stand on June 13, 2012.
With general elections barely nine weeks away, the UPA government has managed to get a hearing from the Supreme Court on Muslim sub-quota. The apex court on Wednesday agreed to hear the Centre’s application providing for a 4.5 per cent quota for the community within the Other Backward Classes quota in education and employment.
It should be noted that the UPA government had tried to bring this sub-quota by announcing it in 2011. The Centre had last moved the SC in 2012 for interim relief as admission process had already begun for hat year. But SC had refused to change its stand on June 13, 2012.
The Centre is basing its argument on earlier judgment of the SC of March, 2010, where it had allowed the government of Andhra Pradesh to implement reservation for the backward Muslims.
On March 25, 2010 the SC had ordered, “As several constitutional issues are involved in these appeals, as an interim measure, we direct that for the time being, reservation of 4% be extended first to the 14 categories mentioned in the Schedule appended to the Act (the Andhra Pradesh Reservation in Favour of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes of Muslims Act, 2007), excluding creamy layer.”
Union HRD ministry on December 22, 2011 had issued an office memorandum providing 4.5% subquota for socially and educationally backward sections in minority communities in central educational institutions and jobs ahead of assembly elections in five states including UP and Punjab.
The AP HC had struck down the HRD ministry’s decision on May 28, 2012, against which the centre appealed on June 13, 2012 in the Apex Court. Although SC entertained the appeal, it refused to put stay on the HC order.
However, the bench, comprising Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Vikaramajit Sen, was not satisfied with the manner in which the application was drafted. Hence, solicitor-general Mohan Parasaran was asked to file a proper petition to modify the earlier order refusing to stay the judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court quashing quota for Muslims.
To avoid ambiguity and inconsistency, particularly when a larger Bench had passed an interim order on the same issue and when the matter had been referred to a Constitution Bench, it was only logical that the benefit was extended for the coming year also as per the two office memorandum.
Senior counsel P.S. Narasimha, appearing for Krishnaiah, the petitioner in the High Court, opposed the Centre’s plea, saying it was politically motivated with an eye on the elections.
Last time following the centre’s announcement, the main opposition BJP had also opposed government’s move calling it unconstitutional. “At the national level in over seven years, the UPA government has nothing much to offer…there is a leadership crisis…decision making is not at its place…Congress is following divisive agenda,” leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley had said.
Muslim community leaders had also blamed the centre for its casual attitude in handling the issue. The centre’s inability to defend its stand before the SC, they had said, has exposed it was never serious about reservation and that sub-quota announcement was a poll gimmick.
Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, president of All India Muslim Majlis-Mushwarat, an umbrella body of Indian Muslim organizations, had slammed the government for lack of home work for defending its decision before the court. “The government’s callous attitude was clear when it sent a junior lawyer to defend its case in the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The government is hesitant about reservation and has been sleeping on the Rangranath Mishra committee report for all these years,” he had said.