Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

There are shades of equality


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Relative backwardness


On October 29, the Supreme Court issued notice on an appeal of the Kerala government against a High Court order directing it to award the scholarships by the proportion of minorities in the overall population of the State. This case will be significant for constitutional law.


  • The Kerala government passed an executive order in 2015 prescribing that minority communities will be entitled to scholarships.
  •  Of the scholarships, 80% were distributed to Muslim students.
  •  In Justine Pallivathukkal v. State of Kerala (2021), the Kerala High Court set aside this order holding that all minorities must be treated alike. 
  • The government argued that its policy was based on the findings of the Sachar Committee report and the Kerala Padana report on the disadvantages faced by Muslims.
  •  It pointed out that Muslims were far behind Christians, Dalits and Adivasis in college enrolment, just as they are in employment and land ownership.


  • The different kinds of backwardness of a community must be considered while awarding scholarship schemes.
  • Any other scheme defeats the purpose of offering scholarships to students from minority communities.
  • The High Court prohibited an allocation sensitive to social realities by adopting a form of blind equality approach.
  • It is important, therefore, that the Supreme Court corrects the error of the High Court.
  • The High Court’s reasoning suggests that access to the benefits of affirmative action must follow an approach which is blind to the relative backwardness of different communities.


Even when we identify disadvantaged castes or communities, we need to remember the forms of inequality and hierarchy among them. The logic of the High Court’s judgment forbids this.

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