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Centre fails to move SC on sub-quota

The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, refused to stay the Andhra Pradesh high court order quashing the 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities carved out of the 27 per cent Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota in central educational institutions for now.

This is the second time in three days that the apex court refused to stay the quashing of the controversial decision of the central government ahead of assembly elections in few states.

The Supreme Court asked from the government whether the quota decision can be made on the basis of religion. It observed that the scheme of 4.5 per cent reservation was neither supported by constitutional provisions nor by statutory provisions. The bench also pulled up the central government.

'We are not inclined to grant stay,' a bench comprising justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar said, while questioning the calculation for carving out the sub-quota within the 27 percent OBC quota. 'You are carving out 4.5 per cent sub-quota. Will it not affect other OBCs?' the bench asked, referring to the data provided by the government about the ongoing counselling for IITs. It said the effect would 'not be marginal'.

The court said that unlike 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in the central educational institutions, which was supported by constitutional provisions, the 22 December 2011 Office Memorandum (OM) on the sub-quota issue did not have legislative support.

The court questioned the central government for not consulting statutory bodies like the National Commission of Minorities and National Commission for Backward Classes in determining the sub-quota.

The additional solicitor general Gourab Banerji asked the apex court to consider his plea for staying the high court order in view of the ongoing counselling for IITs for which 325 candidates have been shortlisted under the sub-quota. However, the bench said it was not inclined to stay the high court order as carving out sub-quota from minorities would have a bearing on the OBCs.

Meanwhile, reacting to the apex court's refusal to stay the judgement, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that there has been a certain brazenness about the way in which the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is going about this issue. 'The Congress has repeatedly misled the people of India, particularly the minorities, by playing the reservation card, whilst all this while knowing that religion-based reservation is not envisaged by the makers of our constitution,' said BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman.

The Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said that the the UPA government should have sought to amend the constitution to make provision for 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities in reservation of 27 per cent seats for the OBCs.
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