'Religion can't be the basis for denying quota to lower caste minorities'

Speaking at a seminar in Patna, legal expert Prof Faizan Mustafa, vice chancellor of Chanakya Law University, said that it is a fact that caste exists among Muslims and Christians too

Prof Faizan Mustafa
Prof Faizan Mustafa


Denial of affirmative action to castes among Muslims and Christians, which are "worse off than Hindu Dalits", is tantamount to discrimination along religious lines, and hence, against the Constitution, noted jurist asserted on Sunday.

The view was expressed by Faizan Mustafa, the renowned legal scholar who is currently vice chancellor of Chanakya Law University based in Patna.

Mustafa was addressing a symposium organised in Patna by All India Muslim Mahaz on the death anniversary of legendary freedom fighter Abdul Qayyum Ansari, who is remembered for his staunch opposition to the two-nation theory that tragically led to the Partition.

He said, "It is true that as per the Constitution, reservations cannot be granted on the basis of religion. But it is also a fact that caste exists among Muslims and Christians too. Some of these castes are worse off than Hindu Dalits".

Mustafa added, "If such castes are denied the facilities extended to Dalits from another faith, then it would be discrimination on the basis of religion. In effect, denial of such facilities will be against the Constitution".

The remarks came in the backdrop of an intense debate on quotas being extended to minorities, especially Muslims, in states like Bihar, Telangana and Karnataka, which has been triggered by a shrill campaign launched by the ruling BJP at the Centre during the recently held Lok Sabha polls.

The function was also marked by the release of a booklet Bihar Jaati Ganana 2022-2023 Aur Pasmanda Agenda that seeks to highlight the condition of lower caste Muslims in the light of the ambitious caste survey conducted by the Nitish Kumar government.

Speaking on the occasion, former Rajya Sabha MP Ali Anwar, who heads the Mahaz, charged "all political parties" with "indifference to the cause of Pasmanda Muslims" and warned of a backlash in the Bihar assembly elections due next year.

Former minister and RJD MLA Mohd Israil Mansuri expressed regret over the Patna High Court order striking down the hike in reservations for deprived castes, which followed the caste survey which revealed that Dalits, tribals and backward classes accounted for more than 80 per cent of Bihar's population.

Mansuri also urged the state government to expeditiously move the Supreme Court and seek restoration of the amended reservation laws whereby quotas for deprived castes were increased from 50 per cent to 65 per cent.

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