Andhra quota for Muslims challenged in court

via IANS published on July 17, 2007

Hyderabad, July 17 : The Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to provide four percent reservations to backward classes among Muslims in government jobs and educational institutions has once again been challenged in court.

Three petitions have been filed in the Andhra Pradesh High Court challenging the ordinance issued by the state government on July 6.

Fearing that the reservations to the backward Muslims could deprive them of admission into professional courses, three students belonging to backward classes have approached the court with a plea to set aside the ordinance.

The state government had issued the order on the basis of a report by the state backward classes commission. Since the earlier legislation to provide five percent quota to all educationally and economically backward Muslims was set aside by the court, the government reduced the quota to four percent and identified 15 eligible backward classes among Muslims. These have been included in the backward classes E category.

The petitioners, however, said the act of the government was unconstitutional. They argued that the government identified backward classes in the community without gathering scientific data.

The petitions were filed in the court at a time when the government is gearing up to table a bill in the current session of state assembly to replace the ordinance.

Interestingly, the government move is opposed by certain sections of the Muslims on the ground that this had created divisions in the community.

As the admission process to various professional courses has started, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and those opposing the quota have intensified the protest.

Activists of the BJP’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) and student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) disrupted the counselling for admissions into MCA and MBA courses on Monday. The angry protesters ransacked the counselling centres at the Osmania University and Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU).

The legal battle on reservations for Muslims began ever since the Congress government first issued an order in early 2005. The high court had set the order aside and also an ordinance and legislation later. The Supreme Court had also declined to stay the order of the high court.

Muslims constitute 9 percent of 77 million population of the state.

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