Kerala High Court today issued notice on a PIL challenging 50% reservation for Muslims in the state-run Institute of Career Studies & Research (ICSR) in Malappuram District of Kerala.

The ICSR, which was established in the year 2009 and has been conducting courses for Civil Service aspirants with 50% of the seats reserved for Muslim students after it was authorised to provide such reservation by a government order issued by the state in the year 2010.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly today issued notice on the PIL filed by Arun Roy, an Advocate practising in the High Court. The state government pleader sought ten days' time to respond to the PIL.

The Petitioner has challenged the government order sanctioning reservation of 50% seats for Muslims, in addition to 10% seats for candidates belonging to SC/ST categories. The government order also provides that the reserved category students need not pay the fee for the course, which is Rs. 61,000/-. as per the Petitioner.

"Reservation on the basis of religion alone is in violation of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India. Article 15(1) says that the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth. It is trite law that religious reservation is unconstitutional", the Petition says.

The Petitioner also relies upon the Judgment of the High Court striking down a scholarship scheme by the state at 80% to Muslims and 20% to Latin Catholic Christians and Converted Christians. The Court had held that sub classifying the minorities for grant of benefits by the Minority Welfare Department is not permissible. "The dictum of the said judgment will squarely apply to the case at hand, where the State is granting 50% reservation to just one minority community to the total exclusion of other minority communities"; the Petition filed through Advocate S. Prasanth says.

The Petitioner has also contended that the reservation that stands at 60% in the institute, violates the law laid down by Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney's case and the Maratha Reservation Case.

The Petitioner has contended that though the Institute was started by the then State Minister Paloli Muhammedkutty citing facilities for job training in Malabar area, what is being done is to limit the benefit to one religion. "The reservation policy is also against the stated aim of the 3rd Respondent Academy, which is "to provide quality coaching to Civil Service aspirants of the state at a relatively moderate cost" and not to aspirants from a particular religious community alone", the Petition says.

"The reservation granted to the Muslim community in the coaching given to enter administrative services is without any need. The said community is adequately represented in the administrative services. Meritorious candidates from other religions, including those belonging to backward classes among Hindus and Christians, are being denied the opportunity to get admission to the Institution on account of the excessive and baseless reservation of 50% of the seats for a particular religious community" says the plea.

The Petitioner contends that not even the creamy layer, the economically affluent among the Muslim community are excluded from the benefit of waiver of the fee. "Since the 2nd Respondent that is managing the 4th Respondent institute is funded by grants from central and State Governments, tax payers' money is being expended to grant the unconstitutional largesse to a religious community", the Petition says.