The timing of the decision to scrap reservation for Muslims in Karnataka is immaterial of the fact that Assembly polls will be held next month, the state government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Bar and Bench reported.

Last month, the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Karnataka had removed the 4% reservation for Muslims from the Other Backward Classes quota. The decision was taken at the government’s last Cabinet meeting before the Assembly elections on May 10.

The Basavaraj Bommai government stated that the reservation was not constitutionally tenable and divided the 4% quota equally among the two dominant communities of the state – Vokkaligas and Veerashaiva-Lingayats.

A petitioner named L Ghulam Rasool challenged the decision in the Supreme Court, stating that the reservation benefits given to poor Muslims in the state have been taken away keeping electoral gains in mind.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had put a stay on the scrapping of the quota till May 9, after the state sought time to file its response to the plea.

In an affidavit filed on Wednesday, the government submitted that the decision had been taken on the grounds that quota cannot be given on the basis of religion.

“Timing of the decision etc are immaterial without the petitioners clearly demonstrating that the reservation on the basis of religion is constitutional and permissible,” the affidavit noted.

Reservation on the basis of religion is against the principles of social justice and secularism and violates Article 14 (equality before law), Article 15 (no discrimination on basis of religion, race, sex etc) and Article 16 (equality of opportunity), the affidavit added, according to Live Law.

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