9 May 2023 6:36 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed its disapproval of the public comments being made by public functionaries on the Karnataka Muslim OBC reservation matter, when the same issue is pending adjudication before the Court.A bench comprising Justices KM Joseph, BV Nagarantha and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah verbally expressed their displeasure at such public statements, after Senior...
The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed its disapproval of the public comments being made by public functionaries on the Karnataka Muslim OBC reservation matter, when the same issue is pending adjudication before the Court.
A bench comprising Justices KM Joseph, BV Nagarantha and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah verbally expressed their displeasure at such public statements, after Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave invited the bench's attention to the comments made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the issue during the Karnataka election campaign. Dave is appearing for petitioners who have approached the Supreme Court challenging the recent decision of the Karnataka Government to scrap the 4% reservation for Muslims in the Other Backward Classes category.
"None other than the Honorable Home Minister makes a statement that he has withdrawn reservation to the Muslims", Dave said while pointing out that Solicitor General of India has already made an undertaking before the Court that the decision will not be implemented. To make such statements despite the undertaking given to the Court amounts to contempt of court, the senior counsel said.
"It is contempt, according to me. They represent the same Government. It is a BJP Government in Karnataka", Dave said.
Expressing surprise, Justice Nagarathna commented : “If what you are saying is true, then we wonder, why when the matter is sub-judice before the Supreme Court, there should be statements made by anybody as such?”
"They are proudly saying they have withdrawn", Dave added. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta then interjected to say that the bench has not been told about the "content and the context" of the statement.
The Solicitor General submitted, “I don’t wish to do politics here. He (Dave) may move an application. We do not know what statement is being attributed to.”
"Amit Shah said 4% reservation for Muslims was unconstitutional and the BJP had removed it", Dave stated.
"If someone says they are principally against religion-based reservation, completely justified", SG added.
Justice Joseph then said : "In 1971, West Bengal CM was held for contempt for holding a press conference defending a rationing order that was the subject matter of a challenge before the court".
While stating that he understood the sentiment of the Court, the Solicitor General added : “As a Counsel I am saying that any religion based reservation is unconstitutional". This was opposed by Dave, who denied that it was a religion based reservation.
Justice Joseph said that “You are the Solicitor General, you are appearing in the matter. In an open court you can make that statement, but somebody else from a podium in a public place making a statement is completely different.”
"We may have reservations about reservations but we can't let it be politicised in this manner...", Justice Joseph added. SG replied that the matter is being politicised before the Court.
The bench did not hear the matter on merits today as the Solicitor General sought adjournment in view of the Constitution Bench hearing in the same-sex marriage case. The SG agreed to extend the operation of the earlier assurance that no admissions or appointments would be made in pursuance of the Government Order (GO) scraping off of the nearly three-decade-old 4% OBC reservation provided to Muslims under Category 2B till further orders.
“The statement made by the Solicitor General recorded in order dated 25.04.2023 to continue till further orders", the bench recorded in the order while posting the matter on July 25.
Previously, the Apex Court had recorded the State’s assurance on not implementing the impugned Government Order. It had noted - "no appointment or admission is going to be made till 18.04.2023 on the basis of the impugned GO."
The GO is apparently based on an interim report of Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes. The Court had stated that the State could have waited for the final report before revoking the reservations provided to Muslims in the State.
In an earlier hearing, the Court had prima facie observed that the decision taken by the State Government appeared to be flawed and hasty.
Under the scanner is a government order by which the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Karnataka government sought to exclude Muslims from the Other Backward Classes category and scrap the four per cent reservation given to them under Category II(B). After moving Muslims under Category II(B) to the ten per cent reservation pool for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), the Veerashaiva-Lingayats and Vokkaligas communities, previously included under Categories III(A) and III(B), were granted an additional two per cent of the newly available seats, increasing their total share.
The matter is to be next listed on 25th of July, 2023.
[Case Title: L. Ghulam Rasool v. State of Karnataka And Ors. WP(C) No. 435/2023]