Supreme Court | Photo: ANI
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the Centre and others on an appeal against the Kerala High Court order which quashed the state government orders sub-classifying the minorities by providing merit-cum-means scholarship.
A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai issued notices to the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Kerala State Commission for Minorities and others on the state government's appeal and sought their replies within four weeks.
In the May 28 order, the high court had quashed the Kerala government orders sub-classifying the minorities by providing merit-cum-means scholarship at 80 per cent to Muslim community and 20 per cent to Latin Catholic Christians and Converted Christians, saying it cannot be legally sustained.
Senior advocate C U Singh appeared for the Kerala government.
The bench also issued notice on two connected petitions, filed by private organizations -- Minority Indians Planning and Vigilance Commission Trust and MSM Kerala State Committee.
Advocate Haris Beeran, appearing for petitioner Minority Indians Planning and Vigilance Commission Trust, submitted before the bench that the government order was in operation for the last 13 years and sought a stay on the high court order.
The apex court, however, refused to stay the high court order.
The high court had also directed the government to pass requisite and appropriate orders providing merit-cum-means scholarship to members of the notified minority communities within the state equally and in accordance with the latest population census available with the State Minority Commission.
"Here is a case where without taking into account the entitlement of the Christian minority community within the state available from the population ratio, state is indulging in providing scholarship to the Muslim minority community at 80 per cent, which according to us, is an unconstitutional act and unsupported by any law.
"Mere executive orders issued by the State Government cannot overreach the provisions of the Minority Commissions Acts, 1992 and 2014, and the imperatives contained under the provisions of the Constitution of India discussed above. Article 29 also casts a duty to protect the educational interests of the minority community in equal measure and not in a discriminatory manner," the high court had said.