The move to set aside 4.5% share for minorities, including Muslims, within an existing affirmative-action system for other backward classes (OBCs) is legally sound, Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson K Rahman Khan has said.
Rahman Khan, whose “reservation” model for Muslims in Karnataka served as a model reference point for the government’s decision, however said declaring the entire community backward based on Sachar's findings alone, as demanded by many Muslims, was not constitutionally possible unless a separate all-India door-to-door survey of Muslim households is carried out to bring out their educational and economic backwardness.
“Even if the decision were to be challenged, it would stand sound on legality because reservation is being given to those Muslim and other minorities groups that are already surveyed and defined as backward and whose backwardness has been constitutionally upheld,” he said.
“No new class of beneficiaries are being added. It was a safe approach to take,” he said. Politically, the Congress is banking on the government’s recent decision to boost its ratings among the country’s largest minority ahead of key polls.
At present, there are 21 Muslim groups like Ansari and Ganchi in the government’s list of OBCs.
OBCs make up 40.7% of total Muslims and comprise 15.7% of the overall OBC population.
According to the Sachar Committee’s findings, Muslims hold less than 5% of government jobs and make up less than 4% of graduate students. Also, their access to credit is very bad, despite Muslims being self-employed at a far higher rate.
“Sachar’s findings alone cannot be the basis of granting overall reservation for the community. In Karnataka, it was possible for us to give substantial reservation benefits to Muslims because we had done door-to-door surveys,” he said.