Suspect moves: On changes to reservation policy in Karnataka

Source: The post is based on the article “Suspect moves: On changes to reservation policy in Karnataka” published in The Hindu on 29th March 2023.

Syllabus: GS – 2: mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections.

Relevance: About the recent reservation policy of Karnataka.

News: The Karnataka government decided to scrap the 4% quota for Muslims within the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category and earmark an additional 2% each to the dominant Vokkaliga and Veerashaiva-Lingayat communities. This is reminiscent of the abrogation of the 5% quota for Muslims in Maharashtra in 2015.

Note: The Karnataka State Backward Classes Commission has not recommended for the withdrawal of reservations for Muslims.

What will be the impact of the decision?

a) The scrapping of reservations for Muslims, including their poorer members, will now have to compete with the general category for the 10% ‘Economically Weaker Sections’ quota, b) The move will be seen as discriminative and divisive against a minority group in the hope of garnering the support of the majority.

Read more: On reservation for women in politics

What are the constitutional provisions for reservation?

The Constitution does not allow reservation on the basis of religion alone. For example, there have been judicial verdicts striking down quotas for Muslims for not being backed by a proper study of the extent of backwardness in the community.

However, it is possible to extend reservation benefits to the backward sections among religious minorities identified on the basis of relevant criteria. For example, some States have been implementing reservations in educational institutions as well as public employment for Muslims by including them in the Backward Classes (BC) list.

In conclusion, major decisions, such as changing the reservation policy, in the run-up to elections may end up creating unwanted fires.

Read more: Supreme Court’s Judgment on EWS Reservation – Explained, pointwise
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