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Published in the 1-15 Jan 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Muslims worse than SC/ST

Aligarh: Prof. Mohammad Shabbir, incharge of Ambedkar Chair of AMU’s department of law while pleading for reservation for Muslims in government jobs in proportion to their population, said that even fifty-seven years after Independence they are extremely backward educationally, socially and economically and their condition has become even worse than members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who have been given reservation. He expressed these views while speaking on the theme ‘Reservation for Muslims and its extension to private sector’ under the auspices of Dr Ambedkar Chair of Legal Studies and Research, Department of Law.

He said that the main reasons for the backwardness of Muslims were the policies of all previous governments which were characterised by partiality and bias towards Muslims because the principle of equality before law and the principles of secularism were violated. He added that the commissions appointed by governments of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, had recommended between 7 to 9 percent reservation for Muslims and these states implemented the recommendations. On the basis of social, educational and economic backwardness and on the principle of equality in the democratic structure of the country Muslims are entitled to reservation.

Prof Shabbir said that besides India other countries like United States, Japan, Australia, Malayasia, Nigeria and Singapore too have given reservation to their poor, backward and oppressed citizens for their progress and development. He also spoke about Mandal Commission, other commissions on reservation and the Supreme Court’s verdict in favour of reservation for backward classes. The creamy layers among Muslims who are economically sound should not be given reservation. But Muslims should be given reservation according to the proportion of their population. He tried to prove his point in the light of Supreme Court’s verdicts, Constitution and laws that Muslims have been used as alternatives to one another on the basis of caste, creed and class, added Prof. Shabbir.

Referring to Art. 15 (2) of Constitution he said that if, on the basis of religion, caste, sex and place of birth preferential treatment can be given or on any other solid and logical reason, Muslims should too be given reservation under the provision of ‘reasonable classification’ laid down in Constitution in view of their present wretched condition, and it will be legitimate from the point of view of law and facts. He said that if such a large minority community remained poor and backward, all-round development of the country would not be possible and the country’s unity and integrity will be under threat. That is why those who believe in secularism are in favour of reservation to Muslims.

Prof. Shabbir also supported reservation for the members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in private sector and said that private sector is growing because of government's policy of privatisation, and if they are not given reservation in private sector too that will be denial of justice to them. Zafar A. Khan lecturer in the Ambedkar Chair of Legal Studies and Research welcomed and thanked the audience. 
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