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Quota for Muslims: SC to hear petition
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September 14, 2007 20:54 IST

The Supreme Court will hear on September 24, a petition challenging the Constitutional validity of an ordinance granting four per cent reservation to Muslims in professional colleges by the Andhra Pradesh government.

Without issuing notice, a bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran fixed the date for hearing after senior advocate Arun Jaitley sought urgent hearing, stating that the state government would finalise the admission process by September 30.

The petition filed by T Murlidhar Rao and K Sriteja challenged the Andhra Pradesh high court order, declining to stay the ordinance issued by the government on July 6, 2007, under which it provided four per cent reservations to several sub-sects in the Muslim community by treating them as backward classes.

The high court refused to stay the ordinance after the state government submitted that the issue relating to reservation for OBCs was pending before the apex court and hence no order be passed till the matter was adjudicated by the Constitution bench.

However, the petitioners contended that the matter before the apex court was different where the Constitution bench has been examining the validity of the 93rd Amendment and providing 27 per cent reservation to the OBCs in central educational institutions. They said in the petition before the high court the issue pertains to providing the reservation exclusivley to the Muslim Community on religious lines which was violative of Articles 15(1) and 15(2) of the Constitution.

The petitioner said this was the third attempt by the state to provide quota to Muslims as the earlier two were struck down by the high court. They questioned the present  ordinance contending that when the appeal against the earlier one was pending before the apex court how the state government can come out with a fresh one.

The state's June 21, 2005 ordinance granting five per cent reservation to Muslims in education and jobs by declaring the entire community as backward class was struck down by the high court as illegal and unconstitutional.

The appeal against it is pending in the apex court. The high court held that reservation on the basis of religion violates Article 14, 15 (1) and 16 (2), following which the state filed an appeal in the apex court. The apex court, while listing the appeal along with similar writ petitions on January 4, 2006, ordered status quo with regard to the admissions and appointments already made for the said academic year, but refused to extend the relief for the current academic year.

Earlier, the five-judge bench of the high court had on September 21, 2004 had held as illegal and unconstitutional the ordinance by the state under which five per cent reservation.

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