The Telangana legislature today passed a bill which raises substantially the reservation for backward Muslims and scheduled tribes, taking the total quotas in government jobs and educational institutions much beyond the 50 per cent limit set by the Supreme Court.
The Telangana Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of Appointments or Posts in the Services under the State) Bill, 2017, was passed by the two houses of the legislature on a Sunday amid protest by five BJP MLAs, who were suspended for the day.
Barring the BJP, all other parties backed the bill.
The new legislation envisages raising reservation for socially and educationally backward Muslims from the existing four to 12 per cent and for Scheduled Tribes from six to 10 per cent.
With this, the total quota in the state has gone up to 62 per cent from 50 per cent, which is the ceiling prescribed by the Supreme Court.
"The poorer sections of Muslims have already been getting 4 per cent reservation under the Backward Classes (E) category. After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, population percentage of Muslims in Telangana has shot up and 90 per cent of them are poor and socially backward. Hence, we have decided to increase reservation for them treating them as OBC," Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao told the assembly.
Speaker Madhusudanachari suspended all five BJP MLAs as they protested carrying placards and sporting black scarves, calling the bill "unconstitutional" as it provided for quotas based on religion.
The lone BJP member in the Legislative Council, Ramachandra Rao, staged a walkout.
The BJP MLAs, however, said they supported the increase in quotas for the STs.
It will now be sent for the President's assent, Rao said.
He said if the Centre did not include the bill in the 9th schedule of the Constitution which will preclude a judicial review, the state government will approach the Supreme Court for a direction to the Union government.
"Why can't Muslims be given reservations? Are they sinners? They constitute one-fifth of the population of this country....Don't they pay taxes? Are they not citizens of India?" he asked.
"I am not going to beg the Centre (for assent). I am going to fight for it, if required. If the Centre does not come forward (to facilitate assent for the bill), we will raise the issue in the Parliament," Rao said.
Increasing reservation for Muslims was TRS' election promise and the people of the state had endorsed it, Rao said.
Congress leader T Jeevan Reddy backed the bill, but said the state government must ensure its inclusion in the 9th schedule of the Constitution.
BJP floor leader G Kishan Reddy said reservation for Muslims was not justified as there was no caste-based discrimination in Islam. He also said quotas for Muslims was "un-Islamic".
"Any reservation for Muslims is un-Islamic. Dr B R Ambedkar also opposed reservations based on religion. 94 per cent of Muslim community in the state is covered by the new reservation. This would be a historic blunder of this government," Reddy said.
Meanwhile, police detained BJP workers in various parts of the city as they tried to march towards the Assembly.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)