The Centre will challenge in the Supreme Court the order of theAndhra Pradesh High Court striking down its 4.5 per cent sub-quotato minorities within OBC reservation in central educationalinstitutions and jobs saying that the decision was based onreligious grounds. "We will go to the Supreme Court by way of a Special LeavePetition (SLP) against the Andhra Pradesh High Court order,"Union Minister for Law and Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid toldreporters here. He said that the government would like to address the matter with a"sense of urgency". "The Attorney General will come only next week and then wecan take a call on how to go on it. We want to go as quickly aspossible," Mr. |
Khurshid said. The high court had observed on Monday that no evidence was shown toit to justify the classification of these religious minorities as ahomogeneous group or as more backward classes deserving somespecial treatment. Mr. Khurshid, however, said that while the court has rightly statedthat community cannot be given reservation only on the basis ofreligion, he sought to clarify, "We have made reservation ona share of backward classes." "Yes in the Constitution you cannot make religion the onlycriteria for giving reservation to a community. Minority is notjust a religion.
It is also linguistic. The expression of the wordminority is both religious and linguistic," he argued. The minister said the government did not include any new caste fromthe minorities in the OBC list but did it entirely on the basis ofthe Mandal Commission, which had suggested 27 per cent reservationfor OBCs. "Backward minorities have not got more than they are alreadyallowed to get as per their population. 4.5 per cent of reservationis only among those castes included in the OBC list from theminorities.
It is only their share in the 27 per centreservation," Mr. Khurshid said. Mr. Khurshid also rejected contentions that the high court orderwas a setback to the government. "No setback at all", he said, adding that the processof reservation was part of affirmative action.
The minister was hopeful that this matter would be referred to aConstitution Bench of the Supreme Court like the previous decisionof the Andhra Pradesh High Court on the issue of minorityreservation in the state. Mr. Khurshid also downplayed contentions that the high court orderannulling the government's decision of 4.5 per centreservation for minorities has cast shadow on the faith of largenumber of students seeking admissions in IITs, who benefitted fromit. "I have spoken to the HRD Minister (Kapil Sibal).
He saysthat the selection to IITs is not completed. But if anybody hassecured admission in IIT, he can go to the Supreme Court. Anybody can go to the Supreme Court," he said, adding thegovernment will itself like to take up the matter "as quicklyas possible". The minister also referred to an earlier intervention by theSupreme Court in which the court had ensured that those who havealready secured admissions would not be affected by an earlier highcourt order on the reservation issue.
Regarding the court's criticism that the government handledthe issue in a "casual" manner, Mr. Khurshid said itwas not clear whether the court was referring to policy aspect ofthe issue or the advocacy aspect. He said it was not the first time the Andhra Pradesh High Court hasstruck down such an order. On earlier occasions also, the AP highcourt had struck down the state government's order to providequota. On Team Anna With Team Anna appearing to be in disarray, Law Minister SalmanKhurshid took potshots at them saying there was a need to save AnnaHazare from his group of anti-graft activists.
"There is a need to save Anna Hazare from these people asmuch as there is a need to save the country from corruption,"Mr. Khurshid told reporters when asked to comment on freshallegations of corruption made by Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwalagainst some ministers. "He did not name any one of them (Team Anna)," Mr.Khurshid asked the questioner. The minister's remarks come at a time when reports appearedin a section of the media that Kiran Bedi had written to Mr.
Hazareabout alleged mismanagement of funds by Mr. Kejriwal's NGOPublic Cause Research Foundation (PCRF). Both Mr. Kejriwal and Ms.Bedi have denied the reports. "In this country, only the ministers should be probed and notanybody else.
He (Kejriwal) had said that all IT officials aredishonest. Only one IT officer was honest and he left thedepartment," Mr. Khurshid said. Mr.
Kejriwal, a former Indian Revenue Service officer, retired asJoint Commissioner in the Income Tax department. Recently, Team Anna accused top UPA ministers including PrimeMinister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and HomeMinister P Chidambaram of corruption and demanded setting up of aSpecial Investigation Team to probe the charges. *The headline in the report has been corrected.
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