KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Friday quashed the Kerala government's order sub-classifying the minorities by providing 80% of merit-cum-means scholarships to the Muslim community and 20 per cent to the Latin Catholic Christians and Converted Christians.
The court issued the order on the petition filed by Justine Pallivathukkal of Palakkad against the order of the government on May 8, 2015. The fixation of ratio is illegal as it was not based on the actual population of these minority religions, said the petitioner, arguing that under the cover of minority rights, the state government is supporting a particular section. Though the Christian community raised a complaint, it was not attended to by the state or the Minority Commission, he said.
The state contended that the Paloli Committee relied on statistics from the Justice Sachar Committee report and Kerala Padana report for finalizing its report, which reveals Muslims are far behind Christians in the college enrollment (and even behind scheduled castes and scheduled tribes). That is 8.1 per cent for Muslims and 28.1 (forward Hindus), 20.5 (Christians),16.7 (backward Hindus),11.8 (Scheduled Tribes) and 10.3 (Scheduled Tribes).
The government argued that the unemployment percentage is 55.2 among Muslims, while it is 31.9 among Christians and 40.2 among backward Hindus. With regard to land ownership, only 3 per cent of Christians are landless while it is 37.8 per cent among Muslims. In the matter of poverty also, there is a wide gap between Muslims and Christians. The reality is that the Muslims in Kerala stand far behind the other communities in the social-economic and educational fields and the standard of education of the Kerala Muslims stands too low to that of Christians. Besides, the Sachar committee report clearly emphasized the backwardness of Muslims in the education field and the necessity of their upliftment and improving their educational conditions. Hence, based on the committee report, the government took affirmative action like granting separate scholarships schemes for the development of the Muslim community, submitted the government.
The court, however, observed that the decision of the government is unconstitutional and unsupported by any law. The court also directed the state government to pass appropriate orders providing merit-cum-means scholarship to members of the notified minority communities within the state equally and in accordance with the latest population census available with the State Minority Commission.