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Plea for revisiting Kerala Job Quotas: SC asks petitioners to approach HC

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Plea for revisiting Kerala Job Quotas: SC asks petitioners to approach HC
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New Delhi:  The Supreme Court on Monday directed petitioners, Minority Indians Planning and Vigilance Commission Trust,  to approach Kerala High Court to make their plea for increasing the percentage of reservation for the Muslim community in public employment  in the state and to revise the state's backward community list. 

The two judge bench of Justice SA Bobde and RS Gavai declined to hear the petition at the SC.

In the petition by advocate Haris Beeran,  filed through advocate RS Jena, the petitioner contended that it was time for the Kerala State Backward Classes Commission to revise the backward community list, in line with the mandate in the Indra Sawhney case of 1992.

The petitioners also cited Section 9 of the Kerala State Backward Classes Act, 1993 mandating the Commission to look into aspects of over-representation or under-representation of backward classes in the statutory list on the basis of requests or applications calling for the same.  However,  the Trust contended, this statutory obligation has not been fulfilled by the Commission since its creation despite representations being made.

In particular, the Trust pointed out that the Muslim Community comprising 26.9 % of the state's population,  is entitled to 12% quota in jobs, but the representation of them in government service is only 11.4%. The other backward communities are also not adequately represented in government service in proportion to the percentage of their population.  In any case there is gross under-representation of Muslims in public employment.

The Trust also cited data from a study by Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishath in their publication in Sept 2006, which showed that forward castes   among Hindu and Christian communities have been over-represented in public employment.  The other backward Hindu Community,  Ezhava has also been adequately represented in proportion to the population ratio,  whereas the Muslim Community, and SC/ST community along with certain other backward classes lagged behind.

The petition further stated  that "the Justice Narendran Commission , appointed by the State Government in 2000, has also reported that Ezhava Community has  got its share and at the same time the Muslim Community and SC/ST community are lagging behind and there is under-representation of more than 7,890 posts as on 2000 itself."

The petitioners pleaded that the statutory list of backward communities be revised, pointing out that two reports i.e. the Justice KK Narendra Commission report, 2000 and the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee report, 2006 have also highlighted the abject lack of data upon which the Backward Community Lists are prepared.

The Trust was led to approach the Supreme court as representations made to the Kerala Backward Classes Commission and the State of Kerala (the last such representation having been made in January this year) yielded no positive response.

Therefore, the Trust invoked the writ jurisdiction of the Court to intervene in the matter with the prayers that that the State of Kerala be directed to revise the backward community list in accordance with Section 11 of the Kerala State Backward Classes Act, 1993, that the Kerala State Commission for Backward Classes be directed to examine the complaint/representation of the Petitioner in accordance with Section 9 of the Kerala State Backward Classes Act, 1993, that the Kerala State Commission for Backward Classes be directed to raise the percentage of reservation of the Muslim minority community and SC/ST as per the revised backward community list,  and that the Kerala Backward Classes Commission be directed to declare that the Muslim community is entitled to get all benefits available to SC/ST in accordance with the findings of the Justice Narendran Commission report.

Senior Counsel Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that the Supreme Court had been approached directly in deference to the Supreme Court's earlier direction in the Indra Sawhney case that any petition/proceeding concerning the validity, operation or implementation of reservation traceable to the Mandal Commission should be filed before the Supreme Court itself. 

But the Bench granted leave to the petitioners to directly approach the High Court in the matter.

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