New Delhi: The Central government on Tuesday said that it would move to the Supreme Court challenging the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s rejection of its proposal for 4.5 percent sub-quota for minorities.

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Announcing the decision during a press conference, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid said, “The government will soon file a Special Leave Petition in the Apex Court challenging the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s rejection.”

Defending the Centre’s proposal of providing 4.5 percent sub-quota to the notified minority groups within the 27 percent reservation slated for OBCs (Other Backward Class), Khurshid said, “The proposal is not at all unconstitutional and is only meant for bringing the underprivileged backward sections of the society into the mainstream.”

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 we can take a call on how to go on it. We want to go as quickly as possible," Khurshid said.


The Andhra Pradesh High Court had on Monday rejected the Central Government’s proposal for providing sub-quotas to minority sections citing that the move is based on religion.

A division bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice PV Sanjay Kumar has said that there was no rationale in providing reservation to minorities on the basis of religion.

The High Court had observed that no evidence was shown to it to justify the classification of these religious minorities as a homogeneous group or as more backward classes deserving some special treatment.

Khurshid, however, said that while the court has rightly stated that community cannot be given reservation only on the basis of religion, he sought to clarify, "We have made reservation on a share of backward classes."


"Yes in the Constitution you cannot make religion the only criteria for giving reservation to a community. Minority is not just a religion. It is also linquistic. The expression of the word minority is both religious and linquistic," he argued.

The minister that the government did not include any new caste from the minorities in the OBC list but did it entirely on the basis of the Mandal Commission, which had suggested 27 percent reservation for OBCs.

"Backward minorities have not got than they are already allowed to get as per their population. 4.5 percent of reservation is only among those castes included in the OBC list from the minorities. It is only their share in the 27 percent reservation," Khurshid said.


Khurshid also rejected contentions that the High Court order was a setback to the government.

"No setback at all,” he said, adding that the process of reservation was part of affirmative action.

The minister was hopeful that this matter would be referred to a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court like the previous decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on the issue of minority reservation in the state.

Khurshid also downplayed contentions that the High Court order annulling the government's decision of 4.5 percent reservation for minorities has cast shadow on the faith of large number of students seeking admissions in IITs, who benefitted from it.

"I have spoken to the HRD Minister (Kapil Sibal). He says that the selection to IITs is not completed. But if anybody has secured admission in IIT, he can go to the Supreme Court. Anybody can go to the Supreme Court," he said, adding the government will itself like to take up the matter "as quickly as possible".

The minister also referred to an earlier intervention by the Supreme Court in which the court had ensured that those who have already secured admissions would not be affected by an earlier high court order on the reservation issue.

Regarding the court's criticism that the government handled the issue in a "casual" manner, Khurshid said it was not clear whether the court was referring to policy aspect of the issue or the advocacy aspect.

He said it was not the first time the Andhra Pradesh High Court has struck down such an order. On earlier occasions also, the AP high court had struck down the state government’s order to provide quota.

Khurshid parried questions on the issue of reservation for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims, a recommendation made by the Ranganath Mishra Commission.

"This is not the Supreme Court, or Cabinet or Parliament. I can discuss those decisions, which have been taken," a visibly upset Khurshid retorted when asked why the government was shy of supporting this measure.

Pressed further on the issue, he asked, "Is this a press conference mine or yours. If it is mine, you have to listen to what I say. The matter is before the Supreme Court...When any decision of the Supreme Court comes and when we do something, we will tell you."


The minister also rejected contentions that the government announced the 4.5 percent reservation for minorities keeping in mind vote bank politics ahead of UP Assembly elections.

"If that is the case, why are we taking up now. There is no election. Why do we want to approach the Supreme Court over it?" Khurshid asked. The minister also chose the occasion to highlight the performance of the Minority Affairs Ministry in the 11th plan that concluded recently.

In a two-page note, he said that ministry awarded over 1.41 scholarships exceeding the target of over 93 lakh scholarships and these schemes were a huge success.

The note also listed the 4.5 percent reservation provided to backward minorities in government jobs and admissions to educational institutions as major achievements of the government during the 11th plan period besides increase in priority sector lending to minorities from 10.6 percent to 14.83 percent.

The minister also said that the recruitment of minorities in central government jobs and PSUs has gone up from 6.93 percent to 11.99 percent.

Khurshid also listed creation of National Data Bank, the increase in the fund of Maulana Azad Educational Foundation from Rs 200 crore to Rs 750 crore and that of National Minority Development Finance Corportation from Rs 375 to Rs 875 crore as achievements of his ministry.


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