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Govt Which Claims To Be Progressive Can't Deny EWS Benefits To Non-Religious Persons: Kerala High Court

Hannah M Varghese
12 Aug 2022 9:39 AM GMT
Govt Which Claims To Be Progressive Cant Deny EWS Benefits To Non-Religious Persons: Kerala High Court
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The State has been directed to formulate a policy to issue community certificates to non-religious persons to avail benefits under Economically Weaker Sections.

The Kerala High Court on Friday directed the State to expeditiously frame a policy to issue community certificates to persons belonging to the non-religious category such that they can avail the benefits available to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).

Justice V.G Arun also observed that a government which claims to be progressive cannot deny non-religious category persons the benefits merely because they choose not to belong to any community or caste.

"A government which claims to be progressive cannot deny the benefit due to citizens belonging to Economically Weaker Sections merely for the reason that they do not belong to any community or caste. Therefore, the government has to formulate a policy and guidelines for issuing community certificates to persons like the petitioners who have declared themselves to be non-religious.

As such, the Court directed the State to take appropriate steps in this regard at the earliest.

The Single Bench was adjudicating upon a petition moved by a group of Class 12 graduates who had declared themselves as belonging to the non-religious category for college admission.

They sought college admission under EWS, not falling under the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe/ Other Backward Class categories citing the 103rd Constitutional Amendment.

Meanwhile, the State issued a list based on the recommendation of the Forward Community Commission which only included persons who declared their caste and community.

Students who declared themselves as non-religious were thereafter not included in EWS for the purpose of education and employment by the State.

Aggrieved by this, the petitioners moved the Court through Advocates Madhu Radhakrishnan, M.D Joseph, Nelson Joseph and Deepak Ashok Kumar.

They alleged that they were denied the 10% reservation reserved for other EWS communities other than SC/ST/OBC category.

They further pointed out that the non-inclusion of the non-religious category was a violation of Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution. On these grounds, they sought a directive to the State to include non-religious persons who belong to EWS and thereby permit them to avail the reservation meant for EWS.

During the previous hearing, Justice Arun had orally commented that in a secular country like India, persons who make the choice to be non-religious must be appreciated.

When the case was taken up today, the Court issued an interim order directing the petitioners to be issued certificates in the non-religious category so that they can pursue reservation if they fulfil all other requirements.

"In the meanwhile, the petitioners shall be issued with certificates in the non-religious category so as to enable them to seek the 10% reservation available to EWS students belonging to communities other than SC/ST/OBC, provided the petitioners satisfy the other requirements."

The matter will be taken up again after the upcoming court vacation.

Case Title: Nirupama Padmakumar & Ors. v State of Kerala & Ors

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 428

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