Thursday, December 1, 2022

Sachar Committee: Plea in Supreme Court says PMO’s 2005 decision forming committee should be struck down, along with its recommendations

The petitioners said that they are followers of Sanatan Vedic Dharm and belong to the Hindu community, and they have filed this petition as their right of the Petitioners and that of other Hindus are being infringed due to the Sachar Committee report.

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A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court against the constitution of the Justice Rajender Sachar Committee and its report on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community. The petition wants the Apex Court to restrain the Government of India from acting upon and implementing the report.

The plea, filed by Neeraj Shankar Saxena and four others through Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, is against the notification dated 9.3.2005 issued from the PMO leading to the formation of the High-Level Committee under Justice Sachar and the recommendations made by it in its report submitted on 17.11.2006.

The petitioners said that they are followers of Sanatan Vedic Dharm and belong to the Hindu community, and they have filed this petition as their right of the Petitioners and that of other Hindus are being infringed due to the Sachar Committee report.

It is submitted in the petition that the notification dated 9.3.2005 issued from the PMO nowhere mentions that the same was being issued after any cabinet decision. Thus, it is clear that the then Prime Minister on his own whims issued the direction appointing the committee to enquire into the social, economic, and educational status of the Muslim community whereas by virtue of Articles 14 and 15, no religious community can be treated separately. The power to appoint a commission to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes vests with the President of India under Article 340 of the Constitution of India.

It is mentioned that the entire Muslim community has not been identified as a socially and educationally backward class and therefore, Muslims as a religious community cannot be treated as a special class entitled to benefits available to backward classes.

The petition further mentioned that on 22.02.1947 the Constituent Assembly created an advisory committee on fundamental rights and minorities etc. under the chairmanship of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The committee originally had made recommendations conceding some inappropriate rights to religious minorities. Later on, the committee felt it right to correct the mistake. On 11.5.1949, Sardar Patel, the president of the advisory committee on minorities and fundamental rights, informed that recommendations relating to providing reservations to minorities would be inappropriate and lead to a certain degree of separatism and against the concept of a secular democratic state.

It is apparent that the social and economic conditions of the persons belonging to SC and ST category are worse than any other community or any other religious group. The Constitution of India has recognized the pitiable condition of SC/ST category and the Government of India has failed to take appropriate steps for their betterment in every field including required appointment in services of State. It may be recalled that SC/ST was granted special status because of historical background and the purpose was to bring them at par with the rest of society. The reservation for SC/ST has been granted in view of their socio-economic condition prevailing at that time and not as booty and their uplift is a constitutional goal and the obligation of the Government to make every endeavor to raise the conditions of SC/STs , said the Plea.

The plea laid emphasis that  Muslim community is not entitled for any special treatment for the simple reason that they were the rulers for long number of years and even during British rule they enjoyed and shared the power, whereas SC/ST category and OBCs of Hindu community were suppressed, tortured, butchered, converted either by force or by allurement and had to face atrocities in pre-independent era. In case the Prime Minister of India was interested to initiate any scheme for the betterment of socially and educationally backward classes he should have introduced beneficial schemes for the betterment of SCs/STs. Term of reference would show that the intention of the then  Prime Minister was to bring beneficial scheme for Muslim community in the garb of report of Sachar committee.

The petition informed the Court that the Constituent Assembly has rejected the move to give reservation to any community on religious basis as admittedly the principle of secularism was adopted by the Assembly with cheers where there is no room for showing any favour or dis-favour to any religion, religious denomination or community. It is well established that a thing which cannot be done directly cannot be achieved indirectly.

It is further submitted that there is Mandal Commission report which has been approved by the Supreme Court in famous Indira Sawhney case reported in 1992 Supplement (3) SCC Pg.217. The Mandal Commission had identified the socially and educationally backward classes within Hindu, Muslims, Christian, Sikhs and Parsees.

“It is relevant to mention that due to division amongst the citizens of this country invaders came and ruled for a considerable long time. Fortunately, we have framed a constitution to unite the people of India and such unity is strength for sovereignty and integrity of India and that should not be allowed to weaken due to the lust for power prevailing in the minds of some disgruntled politicians arousing the feeling amongst the minority communities to make demand and for that purpose allure them. This tendency is bound to hamper the entire fabric of the Constitution,” the Petition reads.

The petitioners alleged that the appointment of Sachar Committee was made in violation of Article 77 of the Constitution of India and is unconstitutional and illegal. Every executive action/orders of the Government of India have to be taken/issued in the name of the President by virtue of provisions contained in Article 77(1) of the Constitution of India states the Plea.

The grounds laid in the Petition claiming of appointment of Sachar Committee without jurisdiction are – 

(1) The then  Prime Minister (Dr. Manmohan Singh) without any cabinet decision on his own passed an order appointing Sachar committee, 

(2) The order appointing Sachar Committee was not issued in accordance with provisions contained in Article 77 of the Constitution of India. 

(3) It is only the President of India who can appoint a commission in exercise of the powers under Article 340 of the Constitution of India to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes and to make recommendations to improve their conditions. 

(4) No commission or committee can be appointed to investigate into the conditions of any particular religious committee. 

(5) Article 299 of the draft constitution made proposal for appointing Special Officer for minorities for the Union and the States to investigate on all matters relating to the safe guard provided for minorities under the Constitution. 

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(6) The Constituent assembly in its meeting held on 14.10.1949 discussed the proposal for making investigation about the conditions of religious communities and accepted the amendment moved by Mr .K. M. Munshi, advocating for appointment of Special Officer by the President only for Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes to investigate all matters relating to safeguards provided to them in the Constitution. 

(7) It is clear that the Constituent Assembly after lengthy deliberations on the issue of granting special right to minorities rejected the proposal and also that any Special Officer be appointed to look into the matters relating to religious minorities. A proposal which was considered and rejected by the Constituent Assembly cannot be enforced by indirect extra constitutional methods by issuing an order by the PMO.

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