AG briefs CCPA on quota for Dalit Christians, Dalit Muslims
In the context of court poser
Special session as complicated issues are involved
Quota for these groups should not be from 15% for Dalits: SC Commission
New Delhi: Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati on Monday briefed the
Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs on the long-standing demand by
Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims that they be given reservation, the
way Dalit Buddhists are, as per the 1950 Presidential Order.
The briefing was given in the context of a Public Interest Litigation
petition pending in the Supreme Court: at the last hearing, it asked
the government whether the fact that Dalit Christians and Dalit
Muslims are deprived of the benefits of reservation did not amount to
hostile discrimination under Article 14. The government will have to
either justify upholding the 1950 Presidential Order or accept the
Ranganath Misra Commission recommendation of reservation for Dalit
Christians and Dalit Muslims.
Government sources said the special briefing was given as "many
complicated legal issues are involved" but currently "no decision was
called for." However, the government will have to deal with the matter
sooner rather than later, the sources said, as a decision will impact
on the promised caste census: at present, there are no authentic
figures for the various castes.
Taking a decision on a quota for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims is
complicated by the fact that the National Commission for Scheduled
Castes has said if reservation is given to these two groups, it should
not be from the 15 per cent meant for Dalits — it should be a separate
quota. The existing position on reservation at the national level is:
27 per cent for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), 15 per cent for the
SC (or Dalits) and 7.5 per cent for the Scheduled Tribes. The three
categories together account for 49.5 per cent, and till now, the
Supreme Court has ruled that reservation should not exceed 50 per
cent. Clearly, therefore, a decision one way or the other will open a
can of worms.
The members of the CCPA, which is headed by Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh, include Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P.
Chidambaram and Defence Minister A.K. Antony. A special invitee at the
meeting was Minorities Affairs Minister Salman Khursheed.
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