The Karnataka government on Tuesday assured the Supreme Court that for a week further, it would not implement its decision to scrap the 4 per cent Muslim quota in the OBC category in jobs and education.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Karnataka government, contended before a bench of Justices K M Joseph and B V Nagarathna that the state government would require more time to file its affidavit in the matter. Last week, the state government had sought time till Monday to file its response. After hearing Mehta's submissions, the top court deferred the hearing till April 25.
The state government, on April 13, had assured that it will not go ahead with any admission to educational institutions or make appointments on jobs in terms of its March 27 order.
The apex court had made some strong observations against the manner in which the state government scrapped the 4 per cent OBC quota for Muslims and placed them under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category, saying the foundation of the decision-making process is "highly shaky and flawed".
The top court had told the Solicitor General, representing the Karnataka government: "Prima facie, we are telling you, the first thing is that the order which you have passed... appears to suggest that foundation of decision making process is highly shaky and flawed... it is on an interim report, the state could have waited for a final report that is one aspect. What is the great urgency?"
Mehta submitted that the court should allow the state government to file its reply in the matter and the admissions will begin in May and nothing is going to happen if matter is heard next week either on Monday or Tuesday.
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"Please allow me to file a reply, these are original proceedings. There was no empirical data as a religion..... they (Muslims) were included on the basis of religion. It is not something extraordinary. Can't it wait till April 17?"
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Dushyant Dave, Prof Ravivarma Kumar and Gopal Sankaranarayanan appeared for petitioners L. Ghulam Rasool and others. Dave argued that staying the government order would mean Muslims continue to get the benefit of the reservation of four per cent and "if not, they will lose out in education and employment... Why should we lose out at all ? this notification is per se illegal and unconstitutional."
Sibal said since early 1990s, they were backward and now they put them in general category and after 23 years, Muslims are in general category without a study. This is a direct violation of Article 14, and also the entire notification is violative of Article 14 and it is taking away reservation, he said.
"It is like I am poor, so I will be in the general category", he added.
Dave reiterated there is no study to support scrapping of Muslim quota.
After hearing detailed arguments, the bench said the decision was prima facie based on fallacious assumption and was vitiated as it is based on an interim report of a commission. The petitioners moved the apex court challenging the Karnataka government decision to scrap the Muslim quota.
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