[Karnataka Muslim Reservations] SC rejects muslim body’s prayer for censuring media

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SG Mehta told the court today that it was the right of every individual to take a position on such vital issues and that any reservation based on religion is completely unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court today refused to allow the prayer made by the Central Muslim Association to restrain the press from publishing speeches made by public functionaries on issues that are before Court.

This prayer was made against a statement made by the Home Minister Amit Shah, saying that the ruling party had done away with the reservation for Muslims in the state of Karnataka, as promised.

Prof Ravi Kumar Varma, appearing for Central Muslim Association made a prayer to restrain the press from publishing such speeches.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also opposed the said prayer contending that media can never be censured in this manner.

Today, while a bench of Justice KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna was hearing a plea challenging the Karnataka Government's decision to do away with the 4% reservation for Muslims in the state, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the petitioner(s) told court that the Home Minister was making statements on the state's decision, while the matter was sub judice before the court. He said that this was contempt of court.

One of the judges on the bench, Justice BV Nagarathna, initially reacted to this submission, saying that it was inappropriate that issues pending in the court, become subject matter of political speeches. Court has put up the case for further hearing on July 25.

Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India, took strong exception to this and stated that observations cannot be made without knowing the exact statement which was made and the context in which it was made by the home minister. He categorically stated that it was the right of every individual to take a position on  vital issues.

The law officer further told court that it is his position as well before the Supreme Court that any reservation based on religion is completely unconstitutional. 

He emphasised that if some Executive authority would have interfered with rights of citizens to say what the Home Minister allegedly stated, this Court would definitely intervene and protect his free speech rights.  

Moreover, the bench was further told by a lawyer present in court that the Bharatiya Janta Party had stated in its Election Manifesto that if it comes to power, the party would remove the said 4% Muslim reservation.

Reacting sharply to this, the Solicitor General emphatically said that there is nothing wrong in such manifestos, and in fact, every political party should put in their manifestos that they would abolish religion based reservations. 

The Court decided not to go in to this question.