In a big setback to the UPA’s minority appeasement agenda, the Supreme Court has refused to stay the Andhra Pradesh High Court order quashing 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities in Central educational institutions. The court also slammed the Government for the way it has handled the “complex” and “sensitive” issue.

A Bench of Justices KS Radhakrishnan and JS Khehar asked Attorney General GE Vahanvati to produce before it documents to justify the policy by Tuesday and posted the matter for hearing on Wednesday.

The refusal of the court to entertain the HRD Ministry’s plea against the May 28 order of the high court was based mainly on absence of any data to justify the policy of carving out 4.5 per cent sub-quota within the 27 per cent OBC reservation.

The Bench made it clear that it could not stay the high court order “unless the Government produces material to show a detailed exercise was undertaken to carve out the sub-quota.”

The Government tried to convince the SC that the high court decision could jeopardise the prospects of 325 candidates who had qualified for the ongoing counselling for IITs under the 4.5 per cent minority sub-quota. But the Bench remained unmoved by Vahanvati’s plea.

“First of all you have not produced any documents in the high court. We would have been happy, if you had done so,” the Bench said, and wanted to know from the Attorney General the basis for determining 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities.

The Bench also refused to accept  the Attorney General’s criticism of the high court order and error therein. The Bench, which was not in agreement with Vahanvati that the “High Court has gone completely wrong,” said, “When the December 22, 2011 Office Memorandum (OM) (on 4.5 per cent sub quota) reflected nothing, the High Court will ask questions”.

“Without placing documents how can you find fault with the high court (order),” the Bench said, adding that “Where is the material? The high court says nothing is produced.”

When Vahanvati said the high court also did not take into account the 1993 notification on caste identification, the Bench asked whether it was placed before the court. The Attorney General said he was told that a reference was made about it but not placed. “Then how can you then point out error in the high court judgement,” the Bench said.

Taking highly critical view of carving out separate 4.5 quota out from 27 per cent OBC quota, the Bench said, “It is a complex matter, you are carving out sub-quota from 27 per cent OBC quota. Tomorrow you will carve out further quota.”

When Vahanvati said he would satisfy how 4.5 per cent reservation was provided, the Bench shot back, “You could have satisfied the high court. You should have produced the material. This is a sensitive issue and it is not a matter to handle in this manner.”

“We are unhappy with the manner the Government issued the office memorandum (OM) in this sensitive matter. We would have been happy if any statutory authorities like National Commission for Backward Classes and National Commission for Minorities would have been consulted,” the Bench said.

The Union Government had moved the apex court challenging the Andhra HC order quashing the 4.5 per cent reservation for minorities within the 27 per cent OBC quota in Central educational institutions such as IITs.

The high court on May 28 had held that the Centre acted in a “casual manner” in granting the 4.5 per cent sub-quota and observed that Office Memorandum (OM) creating the sub-quota was based chiefly on religious grounds.

The December 22, 2011 OM for a sub-quota of 4.5 per cent for socially and educationally backward classes of citizens belonging to minority communities out of the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in Central educational institutions and jobs was announced ahead of the Assembly elections in five States.

Vote-bank ploy

  • SC slammed the Centre for the way it handled the “complex” and “sensitive” issue

  • Asks Attorney General to produce documents to justify the policy by Tuesday and posted the matter for hearing on Wednesday

  • It is a complex matter, you are carving out sub-quota from 27 per cent OBC quota; tomorrow you will carve out further quota, says Supreme Court

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