Quota for Muslims in Telangana and Andhra back in focus | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Quota for Muslims in Telangana and Andhra back in focus

By, Hyderabad
Apr 25, 2024 04:45 AM IST

On January 20, 2013, the Supreme Court, while allowing the 4% quota to continue in Andhra Pradesh, referred it to a special constitutional bench

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks at an election rally in Rajasthan on Tuesday stating that the Congress was trying to give reservations to Muslims by reducing the quota for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, brought to the fore the debate over provision of reservations to the Muslims in Andhra Pradesh.

Muslims offer Eid al-Fitr prayer in Mumbai on April 11.(AP)
Muslims offer Eid al-Fitr prayer in Mumbai on April 11.(AP)

In fact, Modi referred to the provision of quota for Muslims in Andhra Pradesh as a “pilot project”, saying the “Congress wants to implement it for the entire country”.

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Muslims have been enjoying 4% reservations in education and employment under Other Backward Classes category in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh since 2007 when the two states were united. However, this quota is being implemented not by cutting into the existing quota of the OBCs, but under a separate category of OBCs, called BC-E.

Soon after coming to power in May 2004, the then Congress government led by late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy provided 5% quota for Muslims by including them under BC-E category, through an administrative order.

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However, it was challenged by Vishwa Hindu Parishad and a few other Hindu groups in the state high court, which struck down the order in May 2005.

On June 20, 2005, the YSR government issued the Andhra Pradesh Reservation of Seats in the Educational Institutions and of Appointments or Posts in the Public Services under the State to Muslim Community Ordinance, 2005, which was later replaced by a bill on October 25, 2005 in the state assembly and made into an act, providing 5% quota for Muslims in education and employment.

The Hindu groups challenged the act once again in the state high court. A five-member bench of the state high court struck down the Act on November 8, 2005, saying that the reservations were “unconstitutional”, as the identification of the entire Muslim community in the state as OBCs was based on “unscientific and defective criteria”.

Subsequently, the Andhra Pradesh government appointed an expert committee headed by retired IAS officer P S Krishnan to look into the quota for Muslims and based on its report submitted in July 2007, the government decided to give only 4% reservations to 15 backward groups of Muslim community to avoid the legal complications.

This was also challenged by a batch of petitioners in 2007. Initially a five-member bench of high court had heard the case but in view of critical issues involved the case was referred to seven-judge larger bench in January 2008.

The bench completed its hearing of arguments in March 2009 and delivered the judgment on February 8, 2010, quashing the state government’s orders providing 4% reservations for Muslims.

The state government filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court on February 26, 2010, against the high court judgment. On March 25, 2010, the Supreme Court issued an interim order, upholding the constitutional validity of 4% reservation provided to socially and economically backward Muslims.

On January 20, 2013, the Supreme Court, while allowing the 4% quota to continue in Andhra Pradesh, referred it to a special constitutional bench. The Muslims continue to enjoy a 4% quota pending the Supreme Court judgment.

In 2016, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court was constituted but it could not take up the arguments on merits of the quota. On August 30, 2022, the Supreme Court listed the matter to be heard, along with four other Constitution bench matters, from the first week of September.

A five-judge Constitution bench led by then Chief Justice of India U U Lalith stated its intention to hear this case along with the challenge to the 103rd amendment to the Constitution which allows the Union to provide reservations to the economically weaker sections.

However, on September 6, the bench stated that they would decide when to hear the matter after it finished hearing on EWS quota. After that, there was no further development on that matter.

As a result, the Muslims in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh continue to enjoy 4% reservations in education and employment.

After the formation of Telangana state, the K Chandrashekar Rao-led government enacted a legislation in the state assembly on April 16, 2017, increasing the reservations for STs from 6% to 10% and that of backward Muslims from 4% to 12%, in education and employment. It sent the bill to the Centre for approval by amending the ninth schedule of the Constitution. But the Centre rejected the same.

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    Srinivasa Rao is Senior Assistant Editor based out of Hyderabad covering developments in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana . He has over three decades of reporting experience.

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