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Khan favours reservation for backward Muslims

New Delhi: New Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan strongly favours reservation for backward Muslims as well as for Dalits among Christians and Muslims notwithstanding the Supreme Court's observation on the sub- quota issue.

The minister also intends to carry forward reforms in the administration of Wakfs across the country and bring a revised bill for this in the Winter Session of Parliament. Khan, who took charge of the ministry yesterday, told PTI that though reservation is "not a panacea", it is a "right" for people who are backward or discriminated.

Unfazed by the adverse court judgements on 4.5 per cent sub-quota for Muslims, Khan is confident that the orders merely reflect some "technical lapses" on part of Government and does not amount to rejection of the sub-quota as such.

On the issue of minority sub quota rejected by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, Khan said, "That is the misunderstanding. The court has not rejected the quota. The court has only said that the procedure adopted to ascertain backwardness is not satisfactory." Pointing out that reservation for minorities exist in Karnataka and Kerala, he said that reservation for minorities in Karnataka was based on the extensive surveys done to ascertain backwardness of Muslims.

"I feel that there was some technical lapses, which have been pointed out n the Supreme Court and the Andhra Pradesh High Court judgements (on 4.5 percent sub quota). My ministry will study in detail the judgements. What are the technical reasons on which the Supreme Court questioned the order? We will try to address those issues and come out with a response…..Lack of sufficient data as to explain the socio-economic backwardness of the country has led to the Court coming to the conclusion that it is a political move," Khan said.

Congress had promised to carve out a separate sub-quota for Muslims from the 27 OBC reservation quota, an order which did not find favour by the courts. Khan stressed that the rejection of the sub quota by Supreme Court and the High Court was on "technical grounds".

"They have not said it was unconstitutional. The method adopted may be technically wrong. My ministry will try to set right the technical grounds on which it has been struck down," Khan said. He, however, refrained from commenting on whether his ministry will make a fresh appeal in the Supreme Court on the issue, saying that he will take a decision after examining the matter in detail.

The Supreme Court has refused to stay the Andhra Pradesh High Court order quashing the December 2011 Office Memorandum (OM) of the government on the sub-quota.

The apex court also said that OM on the sub-quota issue did not have legislative support. The SC bench had also questioned the calculation of providing sub-quota, wanted to know whether there was any constitutional and statutory support for granting 4.5 per cent sub-quota.

Besides, it had questioned the government for not consulting statutory bodies like the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) and the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) in determining the sub-quota. Replying to questions about efficacy of reservation as a tool to address discrimination, Khan said though he believes that "reservation is not a panacea" that will solve all problems plaguing a community, he believes "reservation is a right".

"If any section of the society remains backward or is discriminated, the Constitution has given the government the right under Articles 15 (4) and Articles 16 (4) under the Constitution to set right this discrimination or the unequal treatment. Once the government is convinced that a particular section has been discriminated or did not get equal opportunity, then that has to be set right through these Articles," he reasoned.

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