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SC refuses to stay minority quota order

The Supreme Court, on Monday, refused to stay the order of the Andhra Pradesh high court, which had quashed 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities within the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.

A bench of the justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar declined to suspend the operation of the high court verdict, saying that the central government had not placed any material to back its prayer and that the central government had not done its homework before announcing the 4.5 per cent sub-quota.

The court asked the attorney general Goolam E Vahanvati whether the matter was put up before the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) and the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) before the government took the decision. 'What is the exercise you have done before earmarking the 4.5 per cent sub-quota for Muslims? Was it ever referred to the NCBC or the NCM? Can we overlook these statutory bodies?' asked the court. 'Today you have earmarked 4.5 per cent sub-quota. Tomorrow you will carve out another 4.5 per cent,' Justice Radhakrishnan observed.

The attorney general told the court that referring the matter to the NCBC or the NCM was 'not necessary'. He also told the court that 4.5 per cent reservation already existed in Karnataka and Kerala and that he would place the relevant material before the court on Wednesday when the case would be heard again.

Justice Radhakrishnan asked if the 4.5 per cent sub-quota for the minorities based on the 1993 list, which identified the backward castes within the Muslims to be included in the reserved category, in any way affected the overall 27 per cent reservation for the OBCs. Vahanvati told the bench that the sub-quota marginally affected the reservation for the OBCs.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attacked the government saying that the government was in a hurry to appease the minorites. 'The Congress has been steadfastly and continuously following the communal agenda. We saw it in the Uttar Pradesh assembly election. In spite of the results of these elections giving the message that voters have rejected the communal agenda, the Congress has not learnt its lessons,' said the BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman.

Reacting to this, the Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said, 'I have not read the SC order. But in the courts of law it happens that the bench wants to satisfy itself. I am surprised to hear the word communal from the BJP. They are the sultans of communalism. It can at best be seen as a step to inclusiveness.'
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