The Supreme Court has refused to stay an Andhra Pradesh High Court order quashing a 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities in educational institutions and government jobs. The top court instead pulled up the Centre, 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% reservation.
The Supreme Court refused to admit the Centre's appeal or issue any notice till the latter produced the records it had based its recommendation for a sub-quota on. 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's decided to provide the sub-quota after an extensive survey. The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to produce records on Wednesday.
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 have objected to this.
"Congress has been steadfastly and continuously carrying out their communal agenda and did it with a feverish pitch in the UP polls...Inspite of the results in the UP polls where it was delivered a message by the voters who rejected its communal agenda, the Congress has not learnt its lesson," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.
The Congress immediately hit back, saying that "it was surprised to hear the word communal from the BJP" who themselves were "Sultans of Communalism".
On May 28 this year, an Andhra High Court division bench had struck down the government's 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 judgement had immediately led 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.