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Andhra plans 4 per cent quota for Muslims

Andhra plans 4 per cent quota for Muslims

Author: Omer Farooq
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: February 22, 2007

In a bid to provide reservations to Muslims in Government jobs and education from the coming academic year, the Andhra Pradesh Government is planning to come out with a new Ordinance soon.

The Minister for Information and Energy Mohammed Ali Shabbir told the media that the reservation this time will be reduced to four per cent to overcome some of the objections raised by the High Court. To keep the total reservations within the limit of 50 per cent set by the Supreme Court in another case, the State Government will now reduce the quota for Muslims from five per cent to four per cent. Scheduled Castes, tribes and backward classes' reservation in the State has already reached 46 per cent leaving scope for only four per cent reservation.

The State Government is making this move at a time when a petition filed by it challenging the High Court's judgement against reservations to Muslim is pending before the Supreme Court.

Shabbir said the Government was committed to providing reservation to Muslims from the academic year 2007-08. "We are exploring various options for this," he said.

To overcome another objection of the Andhra Pradesh High Court that the reservations cannot be provided on the basis of religion, the State Government was planning to do it on the basis of socio-economic backwardness. The Government was also consulting the constitutional experts like FS Nariman and KK Venugopal on the legal hurdles in implementing its new strategy. One of the options was to pass a new Bill in the State Assembly on the issue.

Special Secretary to Chief Minister Jannat Hussain is handling the issue and meeting officials regularly to review the progress.

The failure of the State Government in ensuring the continuation of reservation was making the minority community increasingly restless. Muslims constitute about 10 per cent of the population in the 80 million population of the State.

It may be recalled that the Congress had made an election promise of five per cent reservations to the Muslim minority in the State and issued its first order in June 2004, which was struck down by the High Court. On the direction of the court to constitute a backward classes commission to go into the issue of backwardness of Muslim community, the Government constituted a commission and on the basis of its report it came out with an ordinance in 2005. But it was also struck down by the High Court on a bunch of petitions filed by the RSS-VHP activists.

However, before the court orders, the Government could implement five per cent quota for Muslims in education for 2005-06 and providing 250 seats in medical colleges, 4000 seats in engineering colleges and hundreds of seats in other professional colleges to Muslim boys and girls.

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