Following the judgment of Justice Sudarshan Reddy Bench of High Court, the State Government issued G.O.Ms.No.57 on 18.11.2004 while exercising powers conferred by Section 3 of the Andhra Pradesh Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 (Act 20 of 1993) to reconstitute the B.C. Commission. It was headed by Justice Dalava Subrahmanyam, a retired Judge of High Court and with four other members.
The terms of reference given were as follows:
- Examine requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any Backward Class in such list and tender such advice to the Government as it deems appropriate;
- Examine and make recommendations on any other matter relating to the backward classes that may be referred to it by the Government from time to time.”
On 25.11.2004, Government wrote a letter to the Member Secretary of the A.P.Commission for Backward Classes, Hyderabad. It gave a reference to the judgment in Muralidhar Rao’s case and quoted directions given by the Court, which have been referred to hereinabove, and thereafter, wrote to the Commission, “In view of the above directions, I am to inform you that, Government after careful examination of the issue, decided to seek the opinion of the Commission under section 9(1) of the A.P. Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 (Act 20 of 1993), whether to include Muslim community within the purview of Backward Classes of citizens under Articles 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution. I am, therefore, to communicate the following material and request you to furnish the advice of the Commission to the Government, as it deem appropriate at the earliest.”
Thereafter, the Commission took upon the task of examining whether Muslims, as a community, could be declared Backward Class citizens under Articles 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution.
PLAN OF WORK BY COMMISSION
After receiving reference, the B.C. Commission called for representations/objections/suggestions from the public with regard to the claim of Muslim community. A notification was issued intimating dates of public hearing at different places.
The Commission conducted public hearing at Hyderabad on 24.01.2005 and at various places at Anantapur, Guntur, Karimnagar, Kurnool, Mahaboobnagar, Nizamabad, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam till 17.05.2005. It has conducted personal inspection of various localities, interacted with individuals and took videographs and photographs of the living conditions of Muslims. Then it took up the exercise of adopting criteria for determining the social backwardness of Muslims.
As a first step, the Commission examined criteria adopted by previous Commissions, namely, Anantharaman Commission, Muralidhar Rao Commission and Mandal Commission and formulated its own criteria purportedly dealing with social, educational, economic and political aspects besides employment and occupational aspects. Thereafter, the Commission gathered data.
The primary data was collected with regard to the educational backwardness through the Department of Backward Classes Welfare, which employed hundred Assistant Backward Classes Welfare Officers (ABCWOs) who collected the enrolment particulars of students from 540 schools in 300 Mandals, the said sample survey formed the primary data. Insofar as the other data is concerned, the B.C. Commission gathered secondary data from National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) from its published report.
This data was in relation to distribution of persons by general education among Muslims in comparison with all other non-Muslim groups, school attendance rate per thousand persons, work force religion wise and persons employed and unemployed. Secondary data from A.P. Residential Educational Society, Department of Higher Education and other data published by other organizations for the purpose of study of admission patterns in Intermediate, Graduation and Professional Courses, was also collected.
On analysis by the method it adopted, the Commission came to the conclusion that Muslim community is educationally and socially backward and they are not adequately represented in public employment. Accordingly, the Commission submitted its report titled as “Report on inclusion of Muslim Community in the list of Backward Classes in the State of Andhra Pradesh” to the Government on 14.06.2005.
Accepting the recommendations, the State promulgated the Ordinance on 21.06.2005. This would show that the B.C. Commission commenced its work on 24.01.2005 (its first public hearing) at Hyderabad and completed the public hearing on 17.05.2005 and thereafter within a period of less than one month, submitted its report to the Government.
The Government a week thereafter promulgated Ordinance declaring all the members of Muslim community as backward class.
The B.C. Commission report contains nine chapters. Chapter I and II dealt with constitution and the reference to B.C. Commission. Chapter III deals with the background culminating the constitution of B.C. Commission and Government seeking its opinion on the question of inclusion of Muslim community within the purview of backward classes. Chapter IV is concerning the plan of work of the Commission and Chapter V, the constitutional provisions and the comments of B.C. Commission relating to backward classes. The general principles indicated by the High Court and the Supreme Court for determining social and educational backwardness are included in Chapter VI. In this chapter, B.C. Commission refers to Balaji, Vasanth Kumar and Indra Sawhney-I as well as Muralidhar Rao.
In chapter VII, the B.C. Commission refers to criteria evolved by Anantharaman Commission, Mandal Commission, Muralidhar Rao Commission, while passingly making a reference to Kumara Pillai Commission (State of Kerala) and Nagan Gowda Committee (State of Karnataka).
The B.C. Commission thereafter decided to adopt six-point criteria of determining the backwardness of any class of citizens. Chapter IX contains recommendations wherein the Commission concludes and recommends that Muslim in general are social and educational backward and they are fit to be included in the list of backward classes as a separate category under Group-E with five per cent reservations in education and public employment.
Chapter VIII contains the analysis and findings of the Commission. In this Chapter, the Commission refers to the statistics it gathered from Backward Classes Welfare Department, Department of Higher Education and the Statistics found in the NSSO report. (We have considered about this in subsequent paras)
B.C. Commission collected primary data through B.C. Welfare Department from 540 schools in 300 Mandals out of 1127 Mandals.
As per its findings, out of 51,353 total students enrolment in classes 1 to 5 (primary level) there were 4,857 students or 9.45% Muslim students. Similarly in classes 6th and 7th (upper primary level) out of total admissions 8.12% were Muslim students whereas it was 7.19% and 6.93% at secondary level and matriculation level. It has been brought to our notice (and this is not denied) that there are 92,768 schools and total enrolled in 1127 Mandals in the State.
As per the statistics published by Director of School Education, the total enrolment of students in elementary, primary, upper primary, secondary and high school education during 2004-2005 was 1,34,11,068.
The percentage of Muslims at primary level (9.45%), upper primary level (8.12%), secondary level (7.19%) and matriculation (6.93%) favourably compares the total population of Muslims which is at 9.2% in the State of Andhra Pradesh. Insofar as Intermediate education, the education at graduation level is concerned, the enrolment of Muslim students’ percentage wise in comparison with total enrolments of non-Muslims, the gap is negligible.
The unemployment rate among Muslims is much higher, their share in salaried employment is much lower, they are mostly working as self employed in petty trade as rickshaw pullers, push cart traders and as labourers, most of their population falls in lower monthly expenditure bracket, their ownership of land is marginal, their access to education and higher education is wanting, malnutrition among them is rampant which coupled with lower affordability of medical facilities is resulting in their lesser longevity of life and above all even the benefits of governmental welfare programmes are not reaching them even to the share of their percentage in population.
The Commission also visited several districts and specifically visited Muslim inhabited areas. The visit and the interaction with the Muslim families revealed that most of the Muslims live below poverty line and eke out their livelihood by doing manual labour, unskilled labour, masons, rickshaw pullers, drivers, hawkers and cycle-repairs and vulcanizing etc. A considerable section of the Muslims are found involved in traditional begging. Most of the women and children are engaged in beedi-rolling and their income is very meager. Most of them live in semi-pucca houses and temporary shelters and mostly in huts and tiled roofs. They do not have sufficient water supply and toilet and bathroom facilities in their houses and their living is mostly un-hygienic. During the visit of the commission, it was observed that most of the Muslim children both boys and girls are engaged in Beedi rolling in view of meager income of the family and they do not attend the schools. The parents cannot afford to send their children to the schools since the children also have to earn for the family. Their level of education is far below and they do not get any chance to go out for higher studies due to poverty. The commission also took videographs and photographs on the living conditions of the Muslims. A job essentially involving physical labour is considered as manual work. Jobs such as cooks, waiter, maid servants, sweepers, cleaner, barbers, watchmen, gatekeepers etc are concerned as manual work. During the visit of the commission, it revealed that most of the Muslims are engaged and depend on manual work.
The Commission also concluded that the Muslim percentage in government jobs was too negligible.
The State Government accepted the Commission’s report and recommendations and issued the Andhra Pradesh Ordinance No. 13 of 2005