Telangana government has decided to go for a special legislation to increase the percentage of reservation for Muslims in proportion to their population in the state. Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao said that the reservation for Scheduled Tribes (STs) would also be enhanced in proportion to their population as per the Constitution.
Muslims constitute 12.4 per cent of the state's 3.52 crore population while scheduled tribes account for 9.8 per cent. Currently there is four per cent quota for Muslims and six per cent for tribal communities in government jobs and educational institutions.
KCR felt that the Muslims were very backward in the state and there was a need to provide them education and job opportunities. According to him, Telangana deserves a special pattern of quota system as the state has a larger population of the underprivileged sections.
The total quota in the state has been capped at 50 per cent in tune with the Supreme Court guidelines by which the OBCs are entitled to 25 per cent reservation. The SCs and STs put together have 21 per cent reservation while Muslims are entitled for 4 percent quota.
The Muslim reservation policy had been caught in legal tangles even when it was first mooted in 2004 by the then Congress government in united Andhra Pradesh. Late Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy had thought of enhancing the quota but could not do it because of legal problems. Though the apex court had given interim clearance for the quota policy, the final verdict on the matter is still awaited.
If the promised 12 per cent quota is implemented, the overall reservation will go up to 58 percent. The TRS government has decided to request the Centre for a constitutional amendment as was done in the case of Tamil Nadu, where the total quota is 69 per cent.
The Congress, however, is suspicious about sincerity of the TRS government. Congress leader Mohammed Ali Shabbir said, “They (the government) did not even send a representative to the supreme court when the matter was heard on February 29.”
The BJP is strongly opposed to the Muslim quota saying religion-based reservation is unconstitutional.
When the Congress government had first issued an order in July 2004 increasing the quota to five percent for Muslims in jobs and educational institutions, it was struck down by the high court as it went against the constitution. The government then constituted a four-member Backward Classes Commission and, based on its report, issued the quota ordinance in June 2005 categorising entire Muslim community as Backward Class.
But that too got squashed and the court pulled up the commission for not following proper methodology before recommending inclusion of Muslims in the BC list. It termed the ordinance as “unconstitutional and arbitrary”.
After a three-year long legal battle, the government then brought it down to 4 per cent so that the overall quota did not exceed 50 percent.
The TRS had promised during the election campaign that their government would increase the quantum of reservation for both Muslims and STs to 12 per cent each. The government in 2015 constituted two panels headed by retired IAS officers to study the socio-economic and educational conditions of these communities.