Monday, May 9, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Jamia's quota for only 'Muslim SCs' sparks row

Jamia's quota for only 'Muslim SCs' sparks row
Subodh Ghildiyal, May 8, 2011, 02.26am IST

NEW DELHI: Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University as a minority
institution may give a 10% backward class quota to only OBCs and SCs
among Muslims. The move has raised the hackles of National Commission
for SCs, besides triggering murmurs about its legality.

The panel has asked HRD minister Kapil Sibal that reservation to
'Hindu SCs' in admissions and appointments in Jamia should continue
unchanged, and the issue be put on hold till a final decision is

The recently-granted minority status to Jamia would end years of quota
benefits enjoyed by Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist SCs and non-Muslim OBCs,
but the bigger concern is the possibility of restricted reservation to
'Muslim SCs'.

If implemented, the legality of giving quota to 'SC Muslims' would be
questionable because the Constitution limits Dalit status to Hindus,
Buddhists and Sikhs. The demand that Muslims and Christians be granted
the SC status is pending in the Supreme Court.

The limiting of OBC quota to Muslims would, however, stand legal
scrutiny because the community forms part of the backward list which
is religion-neutral, unlike SCs.

National Commission chairman PL Punia this week sent a letter to
Sibal, protesting that "Jamia was taking away the opportunity of good
education and employment for SC/STs as a result of minority status".
He discussed the issue with higher education secretary before
petitioning the minister.

Punia said giving minority status to Jamia affected the interests of
SCs and thus not consulting the national commission violated the
constitutional compulsion laid out in Article 338(9).

Seeking a stay, he argued, "The commission felt that grant of minority
status to JMI does not automatically take away the benefits and
privileges available to the most deprived section of the society and
the institute should not rush to disturb the existing arrangement."

The panel's wading into the controversy has pitted the interests of
two socially significant blocs at loggerheads. While the minority
status to Jamia has been a longstanding demand among Muslims, it is
now seen as hurting the chances of Dalits.

Punia learnt from HRD officials that Jamia will give 50% reservation
to Muslims, besides 10% to OBCs and Muslim SCs. "Any money spent out
of consolidated fund of India or states mandates the institutions to
provide reservation to SC/STs in admission and appointments," he wrote
to Sibal.

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