SC Defers for April 25 Hearing on Pleas Challenging Scrapping of Four per Cent Muslim Quota in Karnataka

The Supreme Court on Tuesday deferred till April 25 hearing on a batch of pleas challenging scrapping of the four per cent Muslim quota in Karnataka after the state government sought time to file its reply.

A bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna said the assurance given by the state government on April 13 that no quota benefits in admission to educational institutions and appointment in government jobs will be given to Vokkaligas and Lingayats will hold till April 25.

At the outset, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state government, said he has to argue before the constitution bench on same-sex marriage and they will compile the reply on the issue of quota over the weekend.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for some of the petitioners challenging the scrapping of the quota, did not object to the state’s request but said they be given the reply over the weekend, so that they could go through it before the next date of hearing on April 25.

The bench then listed the matter for further hearing on April 25.

On April 13, the Karnataka government’s decision to scrap four per cent Muslim quota ahead of the assembly polls came under the scanner of the Supreme Court, which questioned the government order and said prima facie it appeared to be on a “highly shaky ground” and “flawed”.

Taking note of the observations, the Karnataka government had assured the top court that it will put on hold its March 24 order by which it had given quotas in admission to educational institutions and appointment in government jobs to Vokkaligas and Lingayats, till the next date of hearing.

The four per cent reservation for Muslims was to be equally split between the two communities.

The top court said from the records tabled before it appears that the Karnataka government’s decision is based on “absolutely fallacious assumption”.

The top court had earlier given time till April 17 to the state government and counsel representing members of Vokkaliga and Lingayat communities to file their response to a batch of petitions challenging the government order, and had recorded that no admissions or appointments will be made till April 18 on the basis of the impugned order.

The state’s BJP government headed by Basavaraj Bommai decided to scrap the four per cent reservation for Muslims in government jobs and educational institutions weeks ahead of the state assembly polls on May 10.

The state government announced two new categories of reservation and divided the four per cent Muslim quota between the Vokkaligas and Lingayats, the two numerically dominant and politically influential communities. Muslims eligible for quotas were categorised under the economically weaker sections.

The state government’s decision has pushed the reservation limit to around 57 per cent now.

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