RESERVATION FOR MUSLIMS (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Polity)

News-CRUX-10     24th April 2024        
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Context: During an election rally in Tonk, Rajasthan, the Prime Minister of India recently stated that the opposition has attempted to grant reservations to Muslims by diminishing the quota for SCs, STs, and OBCs.

Reservation for Muslims in Andhra Pradesh

  • About: Several Muslim communities are included in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation both at the central and state levels.

o The criteria for the OBC quota is social and educational backwardness.

  • Article 16(4) of the Constitution: It  provides for reservation for a “backward class of citizens, which in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State”.
  • Andhra Pradesh Quota: In Andhra Pradesh, as per the 2011 census, Muslims constitute about 9.5% of the population.

o Muslim groups such as Dudekula, Laddaf, Pinjari/Noorbash, and Mehtar are included in the state OBC lists, which have quotas ranging from 7% to 10%.

o There had been a push in the undivided state to follow the Karnataka and Kerala model to include all Muslims in the OBC category.

  • Legal Challenge: A five-judge Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court struck down the quota as unsustainable.
  • Grounds for the Ruling:

o First, that the quota was brought without being referred to the Backward Classes Commission which was mandated by the state’s 1993 Backward Classes Act.

o Second, that the quota did not exclude the “creamy layer”, and allowed reservation to Muslims as a whole.

Reservation in India

  • Indra Sawhney Case (1992): The Supreme Court upheld the 27 percent quota for backward classes but struck down the government notification reserving 10% government jobs for economically backward classes among the higher castes.
  • Creamy Layer Concept Introduces: It gained currency through this judgment, along with the provision that reservation for backward classes should be confined to initial appointments only and not extend to promotions.
  • Constitutional (103rd Amendment) Act of 2019: It has provided 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the “economically backward” in the unreserved category.
  • Amendments: The Act amends Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution by adding clauses empowering the government to provide reservation on the basis of economic backwardness. This 10% economic reservation is over and above the 50% reservation cap.

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