The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday directed the Karnataka government to uphold the old quota system till the next hearing on the Karnataka government decision to scrap the 4% quota available to Muslims in the Other Backward Castes (OBC) category.
A division bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna adjourned to May 9 the hearing of a petition challenging the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government’s decision to scrap an almost three-decade-old reservation provided to Muslims under Category 2B for OBCs in the state. Instead, The government pooled them with the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) category that has a 10% reservation. Following this, reservations for Vokkaligas and Lingayats each went up by 2%, now standing at 6% and 7% respectively. This decision was taken in the lead-up to the Karnataka Assembly Elections, happening on May 10.
The court adjournment was done in response to the request by the counsel for the Karnataka government, solicitor-general Tushar Mehta. Mehta assured the court that it would not take any decisions on appointments or admissions till the next hearing on May 9.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for members of the Muslim community from Karnataka, argued that this is the fourth adjournment and one adjournment away from the summer vacation. As reported by LiveLaw, he said, “This is a matter of great importance and concerns the rights of a socially and educationally backward community here.” He also argued that, “The quota has been scrapped altogether. It has been brought to zero. Mr Mehta’s statement only says that they would not make any new admissions or appointments on the basis of the recent government order. Only if they say that as per the 2002 notifications, the reservation will continue, we will not have a problem.”
When the top law officer reiterated that the government’s assurance would continue, the bench recorded his two statements: that the disputed orders would not be put into effect until the next hearing, and that the prior system of Muslim reservation according to a 2002 notification would remain in place during this time. Following this, the hearing was adjourned to May 9.