Saturday, June 22, 2024

‘Shaky, flawed’: SC on scraping Muslim reservation in Karnataka

The Supreme Court on Thursday called the decision-making process behind scraping 4% OBC reservation provided to Muslims under Category 2B by the Karnataka government “highly shaky and flawed”.

A bench comprising KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna called the BJP-led Karnataka government’s decision prima facie based on an “absolutely fallacious assumption”, news agency PTI reported.

In an attempt to delay the stay order, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing to the state assured the Apex Court that no admissions or appointments would be made in pursuance of the Government Order scraping the Muslim reservation.

“Nothing irreversible will happen between today and Tuesday,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted, LiveLaw reported.

The government decision was based on an interim report of the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes. The Court stated that the State could have waited for the final report before revoking the reservations.

“What was the great urgency?” Justice Nagarathna asked.

The State has been asked to file its affidavit in the matter by Monday, April 17. The bench recorded the submission of SG that “no appointment or admission is going to be made till 18.04.2023 on the basis of the impugned GO.”

Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Dushyant Dave appearing for the Muslim community argued that reservations cannot be for political reasons. Dave submitted on the basis of empirical data and material, it has been found that Muslims are a backward community in Karnataka and they were entitled to reservations.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in an election rally in March, lauded the move by Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai saying the quota was “constitutionally invalid”.

He also claimed that BJP does not believe in “appeasement politics”.

Muslims in the state have vehemently opposed the move weeks ahead of upcoming state assembly elections. The Karnataka Government scrapped the 4% reservation and distributed the same equally among the Veerashaiva-Lingayats and Vokkaligas at 2% each.

Lingayats make up 17% of the state and Vokkaligas comprise 15%. They are two of Karnataka’s most powerful communities.

Dave said the interim report cited advises against altering the existing status of reservation without proper study.

The court observed that Vokkaligas and Lingayats already have reservations and Muslims are without any reservations now.

SG claimed that as per Justice Chinappa Reddy report, Muslims are only educationally backward. He implied they may claim the EWS reservation. However, Dave retorted that the report clearly says Muslims are socially and educationally backwards.

SG Mehta claimed Muslims were granted reservations solely on the basis of their religion and there was no empirical data to back their reservation.

“Instead of religion, they are given on socially and economically backward classes basis,” Justice Nagarathna orally remarked.

The government also accorded internal reservations for 101 Scheduled Castes (SC). Muslims, who come under Category 2B were moved to the 10% EWS quota pool.

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