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Muslims Being Treated as ‘Commodity for Political Ends,’ Says Calcutta HC

A division bench quashes OBC reservation certificates in West Bengal; it’s BJP’s game, alleges Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

Team Clarion

KOLKATA – The Muslim community is being treated as a “commodity for political ends,” the Calcutta High Court has said.

The controversial observation was made by the court while quashing the OBC reservation certificates in West Bengal.

In its judgment delivered on Wednesday, the division bench of Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty and Justice Rajasekhar Mantha said: “This court’s mind is not free from doubt that the said community has been treated as a commodity for political ends. This is clear from the chain of events that led to the classification of the 77 Classes as OBCs and their inclusion to be treated as a vote bank. Identification of the classes in the aid community as OBCs for electoral gains would leave them at the mercy of the concerned political establishment and may defeat and deny other rights.”

The court’s observation is in line with the political rhetoric of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) which often accuses secular parties of appeasing Muslims for political purposes.

Recently, Calcutta High Court judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay resigned from his post to join the BJP and contest elections.

The court quashed the decision of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government to identify various classes as OBC under the West Bengal Backward Classes (Other than Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) (Reservation of Vacancies in Services and Posts) Act, 2012.

The court also said that the recommendation made by the West Bengal State Backward Class Commission in this regard is not in accordance with the constitutional values of impartial and secular reservation.

“Although reports of the commission are prepared to show that it has not made a religion-specific reservation, it appears otherwise to this court,” it said

The bench opined that the commission should have taken appropriate precautions while dealing with the applications, “filed by the classes from a particular community, regardless of the nomenclature of the community”.

The court also said that the report of the Sachar Committee has no constitutional support or sanction.

“This court notes that the Sachar Committee was constituted by the PMO under the Cabinet Secretariat …. It was not constituted under Art. 340 of the Constitution which empowers only the president to constitute a commission for backward classes. Hence, the report of the committee does not have constitutional sanction or support,” reads the judgment.

The bench also refused to recognise the reliance of the state government on the Mandal Commission report.

“The learned AAG has placed reliance on the report of the Mandal Commission, which was prepared and tabled in the Parliament in the 1990s. It was argued that the said report has already identified certain classes of the Muslim community as backward. The argument cannot be sustained as the State would then have included such classes from the Muslim community under the State OBC list in 1992 itself,” said the bench.

Meanwhile, the ruling Trinamool Congress and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have criticised the judgment by accusing the BJP of getting the judgment passed. Rejecting the judgment, the chief minister said: “They got an order passed today but I don’t accept it. When 26,000 people lost their jobs because of the BJP, I had said that I would not accept it. Similarly, I am telling today, I do not accept the order today. We won’t accept the BJP’s order. OBC reservation will continue. Imagine their audacity. This is a kalankit (disgraceful) chapter in the country”.

“This (OBC reservation) was passed by the Cabinet and the Assembly, and there is a court verdict on the same. They are doing games ahead of the elections… They are doing this just for vote politics,” said Banerjee.

Banerjee also slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for saying that the minorities will snatch away SC/ST reservations.

“I heard a judge passed an order, who has been famous. PM has been talking about how minorities will snatch away the Tapashili reservation. How can this ever happen? It would lead to a constitutional breakdown. Minorities can never touch the Tapashili or Adivasi reservation. But these mischievous people (BJP) get their work done through agencies.”

The TMC came to power in 2011 and the high court order virtually invalidates lakhs of OBC certificates issued by the state government.

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