Karnataka Muslim quota scrapping: SC advises against political statements

The Supreme Court said making statements on a sub-judice matter is not appropriate, some sanctity needs to be maintained.

BySouth First Desk

Published May 09, 2023 | 2:44 PMUpdatedMay 09, 2023 | 2:46 PM

The Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, 9 May, took serious exception to political statements being made on the sub-judice matter related to the withdrawal of the 4 percent Muslim quota in Karnataka, saying “some sanctity needs to be maintained”.

A bench of Justices KM Joseph, BV Nagarathna, and Ahsanuddin Amanullaj said, “When the matter is pending before the court, and there is a court order on Karnataka Muslim quota, then there should not be any political statements on the issue. It is not appropriate. Some sanctity needs to be maintained”.


In its last meeting before the Karnataka Assembly elections, the Cabinet led by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai decided to scrap the 4 percent reservation for Muslims under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota, under the 2B category of reservation for backward communities.

After making the 2B category redundant, the 4 percent reservation exclusively for Muslims was to be divided into two equal parts and added to the existing quota for the dominant Vokkaligas and the Lingayats, for whom two new reservation categories — 2C and 2D — were created during the Belagavi Assembly session in December.

All these decisions were based on Cabinet sub-committees’ recommendations that also decided to place the Muslims in the 2B category in the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) category.

The Supreme Court on 25 April directed the Karnataka government not to implement till 9 May its decision to scrap the 4 percent quota for backward-class Muslims as the state sought time to file its reply.

Also read: Karnataka Cabinet decides end 4% reservation for Muslims

Arguments in court

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the petitioners challenging the scrapping of the 4 percent Muslim quota, said, “Every day home minister is making statements in Karnataka that they have withdrawn 4 percent Muslim quota. Why should such statements be made?”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Karnataka government, objected, saying he was not aware of any such remarks, and if anyone was saying that quota based on religion should not be there, then there was nothing wrong and it was a fact.

Justice Joseph said, “Solicitor General making a statement in the court is not a problem, but some saying anything on a sub-judice matter outside the court is not appropriate. In 1971, a political leader was hauled up for contempt for holding a press conference against the order of the court”.

Dave said these statements were being made every day.

Related: SC tells Karnataka not to scrap 4% quota for Muslims till 9 May

Mehta said the court needed to restrain Dave from making such statements in court and using the court proceedings for that.

The bench said, “We will not allow this court to become a political forum. We are not a party to it. We will adjourn the matter.”

At the outset, Mehta and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who was appearing for the Vokkaliga and Lingayat community members, said they need some accommodation from the hearing.

The bench then directed that the interim orders passed in the last hearing would continue till further orders and listed the matter in July.

On 26 April, the Karnataka government told the top court it had taken a “conscious decision” to not continue with reservation on the sole basis of religion as it was unconstitutional, and therefore scrapped the provision of a 4 percent quota for the Muslim community.

The state government filed its reply to a batch of petitions challenging its two orders dated 27 March scrapping quota for Muslims in the 2B category and granting benefits of increased quota to Vokkaligas and Lingayats in admissions to government educational facilities and appointments to government jobs.

The top court said Karnataka’s earlier regime granting four percent reservation to Muslims would continue till 9 May, the eve of polling for the Assembly elections, after the state government sought more time to file its reply.

Also read: ‘Muslim quota unconstitutional’, says MoS Shobha Karandlaje

Leaders speak

Minister of State Shobha Karandlaje, speaking to South First on 26 April, defended the BJP’s stand saying, “BR Ambedkar, too, sought reservation not based on religion but for backward communities. There is no mention of religion anywhere in the Constitution, only mention of caste.”

The Congress protested against the move and announced a rollback of the decision if it came to power in the state.

Karnataka Legislative Assembly deputy leader of the Opposition UT Khader told South First, “This is purely a politically motivated decision by the BJP government. It is unconstitutional. The BJP’s main agenda is anti-reservation. Its ultimate goal is to eradicate the reservation system in the country.”

Meanwhile, the JD(S) on 27 April promised in its “Janata Pranalike” (People’s Manifesto) it would restore the 4 percent reservation for Muslims.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah defended the decision of Karnataka scrapping the 4 percent quota for Muslims, saying the party never believed in religion-based reservation.

Also read: Can the scrapping of OBC quota for Muslims be implemented

(With PTI inputs)