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Supreme Court tags plea challenging grant of scholarships to minority communities by Kerala government with similar petition

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The Supreme Court has tagged a petition, challenging the Kerala government’s decision to grant scholarships to minority communities, with another similar petition pending adjudication.

The Bench of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M.M. Sundresh passed the tagging order on Friday.

Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid contended that the scholarships were granted to minority communities only in accordance with their respective population share in violation of Article 15(1) and 15(4) of the Constitution.

However, the government of Kerala was violating the above-mentioned Articles, noted the plea.

It said in 2006, based on the report of Sachar Committee on the Social, Economic and Educational status of Muslim community in India, the Union Government had announced a scheme of pre-matric scholarship for the minorities. The allotment was stated to be based on the population of minorities as per the Census of 2001, which would be updated after the 2011 Census.

The plea further said that Paloli Committee was formed in Kerala in 2008, for implementing the recommendations of the Sachar Committee. A government order on August 16, 2008 granted merit-cum-means scholarships in academic courses for Muslim women.

The benefits of scholarships were extended to the Latin Catholics and converted Christian girls in 2011. The reservation between the Muslims, Latins and converted Christians was in 80:20 ratio, it added.

The petition said the government provided scholarships in 2015 to minority students pursuing Chartered Accountancy, Cost & Works Accountancy (ICWA) and Company Secretaryship (CS) courses in 2015. Later, the Ministry of Minority Affairs announced a Pre-Matric Scholarship scheme for students belonging to the minority community for 2017-2020 and the allotment was supposed to be on the basis of the population of minorities.

The reservation among the Muslim and other minorities was in 80:20 ratio. Eventually, the Government orders of 2008, 2011 and 2015 were challenged before the Kerala High Court, which were quashed.

The Minority Welfare Department, by way of an order dated July 16, 2921, declared that the benefit of all minority scholarships will be provided on the basis of population percentage in the 2011 census.

The High Court of Kerala had referred to Reference (4) and observed that it was illegal to sub-classify minority groups according to their backwardness and on that basis to provide 80 percent of merit-cum-means scholarship to Muslim communities and 20 percent to Latin Christian, Converted Christian and other minority communities; and that minority scholarships must be provided to all notified minority communities in accordance with their population share.

The petition was filed by Advocate-on-Record Lubna Naaz, on behalf of the All India Backward Classes Federation and the Muslim Employees Cultural Association.

Case Status: All India Backward Classes Federation And Anr. v. State of Kerala And Ors. W.P.(C) No. 404/2022

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