External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid Sunday expressed hope that the Supreme Court would grant relief to the centre on its decision to provide 4.5 percent reservation in education and government jobs to minorities and backward classes.
"The matter is pending before a constitution bench of the Supreme Court and we are hopeful that the government decision will get legal clearance soon," Khurshid said.
Of the total 14 percent minorities in the country, around nine percent belong to the backward classes, Khurshid said, addressing a national conference on 'Seven Years After Sachar', organised by Muslim NGO Strive for Eminence and Empowerment (SEE) here.
Discussing the demand for increasing the quota for Haj pilgrims, Khurshid said the Saudi Arabian government had reduced its Haj intake by 50 percent and of other countries by 20 percent owing to the renovation work underway in and around Makkah.
However, the minister said that the Haj Committee will soon take a decision on whether to reduce its own quota or slash the quota given to private Haj tour operators.
"Next year, we shall take up with the Saudi Arabian authorities to increase the Haj quota for India based on the latest figures of Muslim population in the country," Khurshid said.
Maharashtra's Minority Affairs Minister M.A. Nasim Khan said Muslims must be given reservations in jobs and education.
"Without reservations, they cannot improve their lot and join the national mainstream," Nasim Khan said.
Other prominent speakers included Planning Commission Member Syeda Hameed and Islamic scholar and SEE chairman Maulana M.F. Rahim Mujaddidi.