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Govt: Quota for Muslims against law

Govt: Quota for Muslims against law

Author: Times News Network
Publication: The Times of India
Date: July 27, 2006

Introduction: Centre's affidavit in sc runs counter to cong stand in AP

The Centre has turned down the demand for a separate job quota for Muslims on the ground that it would be antithetical to the Constitution.

The stand, which is sure to embarrass the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh which promulgated a 5% job quota for Muslims in the state, was conveyed to Supreme Court on Tuesday in an affidavit filed in response to a PIL.

The PIL challenged the validity of the 93rd constitutional amendment that opened the way for governments to promulgate quota even in institutions, which received no financial support for them.

The Centre, which sought to distance itself from advocacy of individual ministers for quota in private sector, told the court that a reservation policy designed exclusively for a particular community will be unconstitutional.

"A policy allowing for reservation based on religion would violate the fundamental right to equality enshrined in the Constitution. As a result, reservations for Muslims alone would be squarely discriminatory," it said.

The unambiguous "no" to community quota comes at a time when the demand for a Muslim quota appears to be gaining ground.

Several community outfits have joined in the clamour, putting pressure on mainstream players to endorse the demand, which had so far been frowned upon on the ground that it would encourage separatism.

While refuting the charge of the petitioner that it was discriminating against Muslims in matters of reservations, the Centre asserted: "A reservation policy intended to benefit any one religious community would necessarily fall foul of the constitutional prohibition on discrimination based solely on religion.

"The existing, and any prospective reservation policy, would have to make provision for backward castes/classes regardless of their religious considerations. Only such a policy will be in tune with the secular credentials of the country," it continued.

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