The Andhra Pradesh government has promulgated an ordinance providing four per cent reservation to 15 socially and educationally backward groups among Muslims in professional educational institutions and public employment.
According to the ordinance promulgated by Governor Rameshwar Thakur, the identified Muslim backward groups are included in a specially created Backward Classes group 'E' in addition to the existing A, B, C, D categories for the purpose of reservations.
The ordinance also introduced the "creamy layer" concept for exclusion of 'socially advanced persons/sections', but did not specify the upper income limit to be eligible to enjoy the benefits of reservations.
Apart from providing reservations for admission into professional educational institutions under Articles 15 (4) and 16 (4) of the Constitution of India, the ordinance extended reservations for 15 Muslim groups in appointment to posts in the government service by invoking the Public Services Act, 1994.
The specific groups of Muslims identified for four per cent reservations include Achchukattalavandlu, Attar Saibulu, Dhobi, Fakir, Garadi, Gosangi, Guddi Eluguvallu, Hajjam, Labbi, Pakeerla Borewale, Qureshi, Shaik, Siddi, Chakke Takera and other Muslim groups excluding Syed, Mushaik, Mughal, Pathan, Irani, Arab, Bohra, Shia Imami Ismaili Khoja, Cutchi-Memon, Jamayat and Navayat and all the synonyms and sub-groups of the excluded groups.
Muslims constitute about 9.2 percent (seven million) of the state's total population of 76 million as per the 2001 census.
Minister for Minorities Welfare Mohammed Ali Shabbir says that the four per cent quota for 15 identified groups of Muslims would, in effect, cover 85 per cent of the Muslim population in the state "except Syeds, Mughals, Pathans and other sections, which are equivalent to upper castes among the Hindus (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Reddis, Kammas etc)."
The state government has directed the higher education, technical education and medical education departments to take necessary steps for provision of reservations to 15 groups of Muslims in professional courses such as BE, MBA, MCA, MBBS, BDS etc.
It is the third time that the state government has provided reservations to Muslims. The government had earlier provided five per cent reservations to the entire Muslim community (excluding creamy layer) in 2004 and 2005, but on both the occasions the AP high court struck down the quota.
The state government's special leave petition against the high court's judgment is pending in the Supreme Court.