HC strikes down 80:20 ratio of minority scholarship allotment

Govt. told to provide scholarship equally and as per population census

Updated - May 28, 2021 07:39 pm IST

Published - May 28, 2021 07:38 pm IST - Kochi

A 2015 Kerala government order allocating the merit-cum-means scholarship for minority communities to Muslims and Latin Catholic Christians and Converted Christians together in the 80:20 ratio was struck down by the Kerala High Court.

A Division Bench of the court consisting of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly noted that the action of the State government in subclassifying the minorities and providing the scholarship at 80:20 ratio was legally unsustainable.

The court also directed the State government to pass requisite and appropriate orders for providing the scholarship to the members of the notified minority communities equally and in accordance with the latest population census available with the State Minority Commission.

While Muslims formed 58.67% of the minority population, Christians accounted for 40.6%, and the other minority communities 0.73%.

The court passed the order on a public interest litigation moved by Justine Pallivathukkal of Palakkad.

The petitioner, a member of the minority Roman Catholic community, contended that the State government showed marked discrimination while implementing the scheme by favouring one minority against the others without any rationale.

The social, economic, and educational empowerment schemes and programmes of the Central government were meant for the socio-economically poor and downtrodden sections of society, including the six Centrally notified minorities, which included Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains, he submitted.

The National and State minorities commissions were constituted to protect the interests of the notified minorities after considering the educational, social, and economic development aspects of the minorities as such and not any particular minority community. Both the national and the State commissions were not entitled to segregate such backwardness among the minorities so as to protect the interests of any particular minority, the court noted.

The orders passed by the State government in the allocation of scholarships showed clear discrimination by favouring a particular minority community by providing scholarships. The government decision was not in accordance with the letter and spirit of the provisions of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 and the State Commission for Minorities Act, 2014, the court held.

Order welcomed

The court order justifies the long-standing demand of the Kerala Council of Churches and other Christian organisations. The order will provide the much required impetus to the fight against the discriminatory attitude of the State governments while enforcing minority rights. It also exposes the government bias in the distribution of scholarships, a council statement said.

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