The Supreme Court Monday declined to suspend for now the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s verdict quashing 4.5 percent sub-quota for the minorities within 27 percent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC).
An apex court bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice J.S. Khehar declined to suspend the operation of the high court verdict, saying the central government had not placed any material to back its prayer.
“We must have something before us before we can entertain your plea,” Justice Khehar told Attorney General Goolam E. Vahanvati when he pleaded for the stay of the operation of the high court order.
“You have to place the record before us,” the court told the attorney general.
The court adjourned the hearing till Wednesday after Vahanvati told the court that he would place before it the relevant material.
The attorney general told the court that the 4.5 percent reservation quashed by the high court was already existing in Karnataka and Kerala for backward sections within the Muslims.
Before adjourning the hearing, the court pulled up the central government for issuing its office memorandum of Dec 22, 2011, providing for the 4.5 percent sub-quota within 27 percent reservation for the OBC without undertaking any detailed exercise.
“We are unhappy that you have not done your exercise before going for the 4.5 percent sub-quota,” the court said.
The court asked the attorney general whether the matter was put up before the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) and the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) prior to earmarking the 4.5 percent sub-quota.
“What is the exercise you have done before earmarking the 4.5 percent 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 percent sub-quota. Tomorrow you will carve out another 4.5 percent,” Justice Radhakrishnan observed.
The attorney general told the court that referring the matter to the NCBC or the NCM was “not required and necessary”.
The court said the sub-quota of 4.5 percent for the minorities within the 27 percent OBC reservation also involved Article 15 of the constitution which prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
Justice Radhakrishnan asked if the 4.5 percent 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 percent OBC reservation.
Vahanvati told the court that the 4.5 sub-quota marginally affected the overall 27 percent reservation for the OBC.
As Vahanvati assailed the high court order, the apex court told him: “How can you fault the high court when you did not place relevant material before it.”
“You have not done the exercise and (you are) blaming the high court,” the court observed, saying that the high court could have seen it differently if the entire material was placed before it.
As the court declined to instantly concede the plea for stay on the high court verdict, Vahanvati said it would create difficulties for 325 students under this category who had to participate in counselling for admission to Indian Institutes of Technology.
The court told the attorney general to place the material before it and directed the listing of the matter Wednesday.
The high court May 28 quashed the 4.5 percent sub-quota created last year. The court observed that the issuance of the office memorandum for creating the sub-quota was rooted in religious basis and not any other constitutional consideration.