Jobs quota: SC refuses to stay AP ordinance

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New Delhi, Sep 24: The Supreme Court today refused to stay the ordinance promulagated by the Andhra Pradesh government providing four per cent reservation to Muslims in jobs as well as admissions in educational institutions run by the state government.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice R V Raveendran and Justice V S Sirpurkar, however, issued notices to the Andhra Pradesh government and other respondents for September 28.

The apex court also directed the respondents to file their counter affidavits by September 28. the next date of hearing.

According to petitioner T R Muralidhar Rao, the government cannot provide reservation on the basis of religion as there is no provision in the Constitution to provide reservation on the basis of religion and hence the ordinance promulgated on July 15, 2007 is unconstitutional. The state government had earlier passed a similar law in 2004 and 2005 providing five per cent reservation to educationally and economically backward sections of Muslims.

Both the times the law was struck down by the courts as unconstitutional.

The apex court will consider the issue of interim relief on September 28 as the admissiom process is due to be completed by September 30.

The petitioner also contended that such reservations based on religion will further weaken the social and secular fabric of the country.

The petitioner prayed for stay of the ordinance till the final disposal of the special leave petition (SLP) filed against the state High Court order refusing to stay the operation of the ordinance.

The government is, however, opposing the petition on the grounds that the claims of ten out of 24 communities have already been rejected and minorities cannot be denied the benefits of reservation as it violates articles 14, 19 and 21 of the constitution.

UNI

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