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Wednesday 7 December 2011

Reservations for muslims

New Delhi, Nov. 23: The Manmohan Singh government has decided to create a sub-quota for Muslims within the 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Castes (OBCs) and an announcement is likely before the Uttar Pradesh elections next summer.
Although there is no provision for reservation in the Constitution on the basis of religion, many state governments have earmarked separate quotas for Muslims on the ground of backwardness.
While the plan was being discussed, some had suggested the Andhra Pradesh model where the entire Muslim community has been declared backward and given a separate 4 per cent quota.
Others favoured a sub-quota within the 27 per cent reservation. They pointed out that such a move wouldn’t require a constitutional amendment but only a government notification, obviating the need to get a parliamentary sanction.
The Andhra model has a problem, though. Its constitutional validity is being examined by the Supreme Court, after the high court ruled by a majority of 5:2 that the act declaring the entire community backward was unsustainable and violative of Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution.
The former Left government in Bengal had also decided to set aside a 10 per cent quota for Muslims within the 27 per cent quota. But in July this year, over a month after coming to power, Mamata Banerjee announced a bill for government job reservation for Muslims and said the 10 per cent quota the Left government had introduced would be scrapped.
Several states including Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have crossed the 50 per cent bar set by the Supreme Court on quotas and given reservation to Muslims by declaring the entire community backward. In Tamil Nadu, there is separate quota of 3.5 per cent for Muslims and Christians.
The Ranganath Mishra Commission recommended reservation for Muslims in the “backward” category and the argument was buttressed by the Sachar Committee findings showing extreme backwardness in the entire community.
Several Muslim organisations have demanded reservations, arguing that there should be no discrimination by citing religion because backwardness, the overriding factor, has been established by the Sachar committee.

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