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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Kerala HC penalises Hindu organisation Rs. 25000 for challenging minority quota

The Kerala High Court forced a penalty of Rs 25,000 on the Ernakulam-based Hindu Sevakendram, and dismissed their petition that asked why reservations meant for socially backward Hindus are being snatched by communities that they felt are no longer backward. The Hindu organization wanted our rulers to declare that Muslims, Latin Catholics, Christian Nadars, and Hindu Scheduled Castes converted to any denomination in Christianity should not be entitled to be treated as backward classes. The court directed the Sevakendram to transfer the amount within a month to a bank account created for providing financial aid to children in the state suffering from rare diseases. 

It was pointed out that though the majority of Keralite Muslims and certain Christians are provided with reservation in education and jobs, in reality, most of them are neither socially nor educationally backward. This has led to suffering for socially and educationally backward Hindus in Kerala according to the petitioner Sreekumar Mankuzhy (Treasurer, Hindu Sevakendram). As a result, weaker sections in Hindu society are being denied their rights.

The Advocate General cited an age-old document,  a gazette notification issued on Sep 10th, 1993, that said that some of these communities have been identified as backward classes and state-wise socially and educationally backward classes. The AG added that that the President of India is the authority to specify socially and educationally backward classes. The court said that it is on this basis that reservation is provided by the central and state governments. 

As per the notification, Mappila (Muslim) and Latin Catholics have already been identified as socially and educationally backward communities, for which reservation is provided. 

“We are unable to comprehend how the petitioner has sought a declaration that Muslims, Latin Catholics, Christian Nadars, and Scheduled Castes, converted to any denomination in Christianity, are not entitled to be treated as backward classes,” observed the Division Bench. The court also rejected the plea to stop all the financial aid given to those communities for educational and other social welfare activities and cited the Sachar Committee and Paloli Committee reports for its rationale. 

Both are 2004 UPA-era appeasement propaganda that ‘found’ that Muslims, especially women, are less educated than the national average and recommended reservations. The regime used these reports to install self-admitted illiterates in government jobs! Their ‘findings’ also gave birth to a minorities department and hastened the trend of financial aid to lakhs of madrassas and Christian aided schools all over Bharat. Obviously, the number of children in a family played a major part in this backwardness but this elementary observation was conveniently overlooked by these committees.

Incidentally, back in 1974, it was a Kerala judge who said that the “benefits of the reservation shall be snatched away by the top creamy layer of the backward class, thus leaving the weakest among the weak and leaving the fortunate layers to consume the whole cake”. In other words, Creamy Layer (wealthy)  Muslims would eat into reservations meant for poor Hindu vanvasis. That judgement also established the concept of qualitative exclusion, like the “creamy layer”.

The creamy layer applies only to Other Backward Classes (OBC) but has been diluted beyond practicality.  By 2017, the ceiling has been increased to ₹8 lakh with the latest recommendations are to raise it to ₹15 lakh per annum! Crores of hardworking ordinary Hindu families who barely scrape through are denied government jobs and higher education while Muslim and Christian ones earning more than ₹1 lakh per month are being granted reservations. The cap on the creamy layer is nothing but a joke of epic proportions, but now there are signs of a central government counter. Bharat had to wait till 2019 before reservations were allowed for the poor in the general category. Many states have not implemented the same as the Constitution does not mandate the same, just allows it.

Even before 1947, there were some major initiatives for reservation in favor of the STs and SCs, but it was during the 1980s that OBCs came into the picture. In 1987 after the implementation of the Mandal Commission report, OBCs got reservations in jobs. Since the criteria are not strict, the OBC list started getting changed as per the whims and fancies of our politicians to please certain sections of their voters. Recommendations to sub-divide OBCs into “backward”, “more backward” and “extremely backward” groups and to divide the 27 percent quota amongst them in proportion to their population, to ensure that stronger OBCs do not corner the quota benefits, remains on paper in most states.

The divide and rule policy of our rulers started paying rich dividends immediately. Movements demanding OBC status with the Gurjar community in Rajasthan, the Patels in Gujarat, Kapu in Andhra, and the Marathas of Maharashtra continue even today. The epicentre of the Jat movement of 2016  was in Rohtak and soon spread to Delhi and western Uttar Pradesh, and even Rajasthan and resulted in an estimated ₹34000 crores worth of property damages, apart from a loss of 30 lives. The state government was forced into giving a 10% reservation, but the measure was blocked in court. Similarly, the supreme court later quashed the reservation for Marathas. Today’s Kerala court diktats favouring converted Christians and Muslims are in sharp contrast to the above-mentioned orders that denied same benefit to Hindu groups.  

By the early 2010s, the UPA regime added a sub-quota of 4.5% for religious minorities to the existing 27% reservation for Other Backward Classes. Later, Justice Sachar, head of the same Sachar Committee, criticised the government decision, saying “Such promises will not help the backward section of minorities. It is like befooling them. These people are making tall claims just to win elections”. He suggested that instead of promising to give reservations, the government should focus on basic issues of improving administration and governance.

In May 2012, the Andhra Pradesh High Court quashed the sub-quota. The court said that the sub-quota has been carved out only on religious lines and not on any other intelligible basis. The court criticized the decision: “In fact, we must express our anguish at the rather casual manner in which the entire issue has been taken up by the central government.” 

The Union Government tabled the Constitution (One Hundred And Twenty-Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019 which provided a 10% additional quota for the economically weaker sections amongst the erstwhile unreserved category students. The definition of economically weaker sections will be defined by the State from time to time. The constitutional amendment has laid down that they will be restricted to people with household income is less than 8 Lakh per annum or those who own agricultural land below five acres. 

The recent amendments to the constitution exceed 50% and also there are state laws that exceed this limit and these are under litigation in the Supreme Court. For example, in the State of Tamil Nadu, the caste-based reservation stands at 69 percent but applies to 87 percent of the population! It also means that the poorest of the poor in the 13% population have no reservations. 

Reservations like Bharat are seen nowhere else in the civilized world. What began in the name of Hindu SCs and STs is now used to create rifts between communities by favoring Muslims and smaller numbers of other religious denominations. Such state policies have directly benefited the conversion mafia more than anyone else. The government’s reservation policies are discriminatory, driven by vote-bank politics, and more importantly discard meritocracy. Time is running out.

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