No Complaint From General Category Students- Kerala Govt Defends 50% Muslim Reservation In Its Training Institute
In defence of its decision to grant 50% reservation to Muslims in the state-run Institute of Career Studies & Research (ICSR), the Kerala Government has submitted before the Kerala High Court that it has not received any complaint from any students from the general category about denial of admission, despite the pattern of reservation.
The State has defended the pattern of reservation followed at its institute providing coaching for administrative services before the Kerala High Court, which is seized of PILs challenging the reservation pattern.
In a Counter Affidavit filed by the state through the Under Secretary of its Higher Education Department, it has been contended that there was no illegality or arbitrariness in its decision to grant 50% Muslim reservation in one of its training centers, as the total percentage of reservation in all the centres taken together does not exceed 50%.
The ICSR functions as one of the 12 sub-centres of the Kerala State Civil Service Academy and 50% of seats are reserved for Muslims only at ICSR.
It was further submitted that the total number of reserved seats taken together in all institutions was within the permissible limit and that a higher percentage of reservation was given to the Muslim community in ICSR in Malappuram District for valid and justifiable reasons.
The state has also told the High Court that during 2022-23, a total of 105 students qualified for admission to ICSR out of which 20 were of general category, 14 from SC/ST category and 70 students were in Muslim Minority Quota. 96 qualified students were allocated to available seats based on their score in the entrance test and remaining 14 students were placed in the waiting list.
It was further submitted that in case of Kalliasery Centre, 51% of the total seats of each course is reserved for the students of SC communities and if they are not available then balance will be filled from ST students and 49% for General Category students. It was stated that if sufficient students were unavailable in the reservation category then the academy was at liberty to admit students from other categories.
It was contended that there weren't enough students in general category for admission to ICSR, Ponnani and KSCSA, Kannur Centre.
"Various grounds urged by the petitioner are not sustainable. The contention urged by the petitioner that there is violation in the permissible limit of reservation is not sustainable. The total number of seats reserved taken together in all the institutions is within the permissible limit. As submitted above, higher percentage of reservation is given to the students belonging to Muslim community in ICSR, Ponnani and for students belonging to SC/ST category in Kalliassery Centre for valid and justifiable reasons. Moreover, there has been no complaint from any students from the general category that they have been denied admission in any of these Centres. There is no illegality or arbitrariness in the above decision as the total percentage of reservation in all the centres taken together has not exceeded 50%.", the Counter affidavit by the state read.
Arun Roy, an Advocate had approached the High Court challenging the 50% reservation and waiver of fees for Muslim students in the state-run institution.
"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 had also relied 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 said.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly had issued notice on the PIL.
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.
Cause Title- Arun Roy v. State of Kerala & Ors.