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The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday quashed a legislation providing four percent reservation to Muslims in education and jobs.

Delivering the much-awaited judgement, the seven-member constitutional bench headed by Chief Justice AR Dave ruled that reservations cannot be provided on the basis of religion.

The court order has come as a big blow to the Congress government, which had brought a legislation providing four percent reservation to certain backward groups among Muslims.

Some individuals and organisations had challenged the bill, contending that the reservations were unconstitutional. This is the third time since 2004 that the high court has quashed quota for Muslims.

In 2004 that the state government had provided five percent reservation to Muslims but the high court had quashed the order.

However, on the court’s advice, the government reconstituted the backward classes commission and directed it to conduct a detailed survey of the socio-economic conditions of Muslims.

On the recommendations of the commission, the government issued an ordinance in 2005 and subsequently the assembly passed legislation for five percent reservation.

However, the high court set aside the legislation on the ground that this would exceed the 50 percent total reservation limit set by the Supreme Court.

In an attempt to keep the reservations within the 50 percent limit, the government reduced the quantum to four percent and issued an order in 2007 providing four percent quota in government jobs and educational institutions for 15 socially and educationally backward classes among Muslims.

The government brought an ordinance, which was later replaced by a legislation passed by the assembly.

The four percent quota was also challenged in the high court. The petitioners argued that the government identified backward classes in the community without gathering scientific data.

The high court, in its interim order, permitted admissions made under the quota. This was challenged by the petitioners in the Supreme Court. The apex court stayed implementation of the order but left it to the high court to dispose off the batch of writ petitions.

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