The UPA government is pulling out all stops to defend in court a document that spurred its policy of "inclusive development" — the 2006 Sachar Committee report.
The report resulted from a high-level probe, a first called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, into disadvantages faced by Muslims, India’s largest minority.
The government feels the Sachar Committee report faces no real threat of being shot down by court, but high-level instructions have been issued to put up a strong case before the Delhi High Court.
The case, posted for November 10, stems from a petition by the Patriots’ Forum that said the Sachar report gave "unmerited privileges" to Muslims. It also called for halting its recommendations from being executed till the case was settled.
According to the Sachar findings, Muslims held fewer than 5 per cent of government posts and made up only 4 per cent of undergraduates. Their poverty rates were found to be only slightly better than low-caste Hindus, such as Dalits, while their literacy rate ranked well below the national average.
The report led the PM to recast his national plan for minorities, which fired a range of initiatives -- from scholarships to housing -- in 90 districts where minorities are concentrated.
The Patriots’ Forum alleged the UPA was treating one community differently.
The UPA has told the court that a government was well within its rights to carry out studies for underdeveloped groups and take corrective actions.
The government said it was doing no undue favour to Muslims. A key defence of the government is that all multi-sector assets, resulting from affirmative actions, such as schools, are for all Indians, and not minorities or Muslims alone.