Hyderabad, May 28, 2012, (PTI) :

In a setback to government, the Andhra Pradesh High Court today struck down its proposal to give 4.5 per cent reservation to minorities within OBC quota in central educational institutions and jobs, saying that the decision was based on religious grounds and not on any other consideration.

Slamming the Centre for handling the issue in a “casual” manner”, a division bench conspiring Chief Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Sanjay Kumar set aside the Office Memoranda (OM) for carving out the quota from the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs issued in December 2011.

“In fact, we must express our anguish at the rather casual manner in which the entire issue has been taken up by the central government.

“No evidence has been shown to us by the learned Assistant Solicitor General to justify the classification of these religious minorities as a homogeneous group or as more backward classes deserving some special treatment,” the bench said.

“We must, therefore, hold that Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) do not form a homogeneous group but a heterogeneous group,” the court observed.

According to K Ramakrishna Reddy, senior counsel who argued for the petitioner R Krishnaiah– a backward caste leader from Andhra Pradesh, the High Court judgement may affect the admissions that have already been made in central educational institutions such as IITs.

The first OM states that the 4.5 per cent sub-quota is carved out of socially and educationally backward classes of citizens “belonging to minorities” as defined in Section 2(c) of the NCM Act.

The resolution and the second OM created a sub-quota “for minorities”.

The very use of the words “belonging to minorities” or “for minorities” indicates that the sub-quota has been carved out only on religious lines and not on any other intelligible basis, the bench observed.

“We have, therefore, no option but to set aside the carving out of a sub-quota of 4.5 per cent in favour of backward classes belonging to minorities out of the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in both the OMs dated 22.12.2011 and the Resolution dated 22.12.2011. We do so accordingly,” the court said.

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