Supreme Court affirms rejection of sub-quota for Muslim groups

James Egan

Today (14 June 2012), the Economic Times reports that the Supreme Court of India upheld a December judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court that quashed the government’s attempt to create a 4.5% sub-quota for certain Muslim groups inside the 27% quota for central government jobs reserved for disadvantaged non-Hindu classes. In December, the Andhra Pradesh High Court declared that the sub-quota violated Articles 15 and 16 of the Indian constitution, provisions that prohibit discrimination based on religion. The Indian constitution does, however, include provisions for the advancement of disadvantaged classes, including non-Hindus. The solicitor general, arguing for the government, claimed that religion was not the basis for the classification because the Muslim groups singled out for the sub-quota are especially disadvantaged.

The editorial pages of the Times of India applauded the decision and cited the case as a good example of why India’s quota system is outdated. The Times editorial argued that the system encourages an economically destructive “quota culture” that promotes communalism and a “race to the bottom” rather than “excellence and meritocracy.” Editorials in The Hindu questioned whether quotas based on caste for religions that do not recognize caste are sensible and warned that reservations based on religion will only divide people and encourage dubious religious conversion. The Business Times looked at how the decision would affect the enrollment of sub-quota students already admitted to the Indian Institutes of Technology, India’s renowned state technology schools.