Andhra Pradesh High Court quashing of reservation shocks Muslim IIT aspirants
A day after the Andhra Pradesh High Court quashed the 4.5 per cent Minorities sub-quota announced by the Manmohan Singh government in December last year, the Centre put up a brave front even as the Muslim community reacted in shock and disappointment.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Union Law and Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khursheed, strongly defended the sub-quota, and said the government would file a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court against the judgment. The sub-quota, which was carved out of the 27 per cent OBC quota, was quashed by the court on the grounds that it was decided on religious lines.
Coming just ahead of the University admission process, the judgment has placed a question mark on the future of tens of thousands of Muslim students who were banking on the sub-quota to get into higher education this year. In fact, only last week, the Human Resource Development Ministry had issued an Office Memorandum clarifying that the 4.5 per cent quota would come into effect from this academic year.
In the event, Mr. Khursheed's words added to the feeling of despair in the community. He refused to offer any hope to the students and said instead that it was open to any individual to move the court. Indeed, asked specifically about the fate of hundreds of Muslim students who had reportedly qualified under the quota for admission into the IITs, he said: “It is my understanding that counselling for IIT admission has not even begun. But if somebody has been selected, they can move the court.
Said Member of Parliament, Asaddudin Owaisi: “The government is being careless and casual which is the reason why we are in this mess in the first place. How can it lose sight of the fact that the future of so many students has been jeopardised?”
Mr. Khursheed indicated that the process of contesting the court ruling could take a while. He said the court was currently on vacation. And secondly, a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court was already considering the validity of a sub-quota for minorities, though this was in the context of a Muslim quota announced earlier by the Andhra Pradesh Government.
“On three occasions, the Andhra Pradesh High Court struck down the Andhra Pradesh quota and the last decision was in fact by a five-judge bench. Now the matter is before a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court.”