Monday's decision of the Andhra High Court to “set aside” a 4.5% sub-quota to minorities in jobs and education casts a cloud over admissions in centrally-funded institutions, such as the IITs, even as the UPA government gave indications that it would defend the quota in the Supreme Court.
“The appropriate step would be to file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court after the government applies its mind," minister for law and minority affairs Salman Khurshid said.
The UPA government had carved out a smaller pool of quota in jobs and education for disadvantaged minorities ahead of the recent UP polls.
Khurshid said: "We will adequately communicate our arguments before the SC. When we talk of five minorities, we are not talking of religion. We don't agree to this view.”The law minister said he also disagreed with the Andhra court’s view that the government should have consulted the National Commission for Backward Classes. "That would have been necessary only in case of inclusion or exclusion of new beneficiaries or castes."
Khurshid said the government might not immediately approach the current "vacation bench" — since the Supreme Court is in summer recess — but move an appropriate bench when the full court resumes.
Welcoming the decision BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters, "When these reservations were announced we had clearly said it is against the Constitution."
The Congress issued a guarded reaction, with its spokesperson Manish Tiwari saying he would prefer to read and explore the judgment first.
Khurshid said a larger bench ought to scrutinise the argument that the 4.5% quota was essentially based on religion, which he said was not the case.
Muslim leaders have slammed the court ruling. Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi termed it an "erroneous judgment".