As admissions to universities across the country gets underway, the Centre has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, challenging the Andhra Pradesh High Court's order quashing the 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities in educational institutions and government jobs.
The top court will hear the government's plea on Monday. A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar is to examine the Centre's appeal, which 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.
A division bench of the High Court had, on May 28, struck down the government's controversial sub-quota for minorities, carved out from the existing 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). Holding that the Centre acted in a "casual manner", the court said that the 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 December 22, 2011 OM for a sub quota of 4.5 per cent for socially and educationally backward classes of citizens belonging to minority communities was announced by the Centre ahead of key Assembly elections in five states including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
The judgement, considered a setback, had immediately led Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to say that the government would move the Supreme Court against the order.
Sources in the government said that the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry was pressing for an appeal to be filed in the Supreme Court as the court's order scrapping the sub-quota has put in quandary the nearly 350 aspirants for the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) who had been shortlisted under the provision.
The HRD Ministry 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.