Hyderabad: In a setback for the United Progressive Alliance government at the centre, the Andhra Pradesh High Court Monday quashed the 4.5 percent sub-quota for the minorities carved out of the 27 percent reservation for other backward classes in jobs.
A division bench of Chief Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice P.V. Sanjay Kumar, set aside the office memorandum (OM) issued last December to provide the sub-quota to minorities.
The central government Dec 22 issued the memorandum carving the sub-quota of 4.5 percent for the socially and educationally backward classes of citizens belonging to the minorities out of the 27 percent reservation for OBCs in central educational institutions and jobs.
The court, which was dealing with a batch of petitions on the issue, said the memorandum violated Articles 15(1) and 16(2) of the constitution that prohibit discrimination based on religion.
The bench, which had heard the arguments and reserved its judgment last month, expressed its anguish over the "casual manner" in which the centre issued the memorandum.
The judges said that the sub-quota was created only on religious grounds and the government did not justify classification of religious minorities as a homogeneous group or as more backward classes deserving some special treatment.
It also pointed out that the government totally relied on the Sachar Committee report on Indian Muslims.
The court noted that while the Sachar committee went into the socio-economic conditions of Muslims, the government relied on the report to provide sub-quota to the minorities.
The court held that Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians do not form a homogeneous group but a heterogeneous group.
The central government defended its decision on the ground that the reservation for the minorities was based on their backwardness and not on the basis of religion.
It submitted that the sub-quota was meant for equitable distribution of benefits amongst communities.
The government had announced the sub-quota for the minorities ahead of the assembly elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, earlier this year.