Government today said it is committed to providing reservation to the backward sections among Muslims, a recommendation also made by the Sachar Committee that went into the issue of socio-economic condition of minority communities.
"We are committed to giving share to the backward among Muslims in the reservation list for backward castes," Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said.
"This was also recommended by Sachar Committee and we have promised it in our (Congress) manifesto as well to which we remain committed," Khurshid told reporters on the sidelines of a function of the National Minority Commission here.
He said the commitment follows suggestions from Sachar committee as well as the "successful experiments in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka" of giving the backward sections among the minority community separate and special representation in the backward list.
"We can move forward on the basis of what we have done in these three states," he said citing the example of Bihar, where a similar step has already been taken.
Addressing the annual conference of State Minority Commissions, Khurshid said even the Andhra Pradesh High Court, which rejected the state government's move twice to get reservation for Muslim backward did not reject the concept of quota for them within existing 27 per cent OBC reservation.
He said the court rejected its application on the grounds of "non-scientific and inadequate survey". "Fortunately the Supreme Court has preserved the 4 per cent reservation for backward Muslims given in the state," he added.
Underlining the need to go beyond reservation, he said other affirmative action can also be considered for backward among Muslims like it is done for the scheduled castes.
He said that his ministry is also trying to convince the Prime Minister to bring down the cut off rate of minority population from 25 per cent to 15 per cent for declaring a district minority-concentrated in the next plan.
"If that happens we would be able to include 40 to 45 more districts," he said. Currently, the scheme is running in 90 minority concentrated districts (MCDs).
Making a strong pitch for the formation of the Equal Opportunity Commission, Khurshid said that the such a panel will not take away the mandate of any other Commission and it seeks to create equal opportunities and ensure empowerment for all disadvantaged sections.
Responding to a demand for more power for the National Minority Commission, Khurshid said, "In a great sense much of our decisions regarding NCM and other Commissions will be taken after we take a final view on EOC."