The Kerala High Court on Friday directed the State government to expeditiously formulate a policy for issuing community certificates to persons who belong to the non-religious category so as to enable them to avail the benefits available to Economically Weaker Sections [Nirupama Padmakumar & Ors. v State of Kerala & Ors.]..Justice VG Arun stated that a government which claims to be progressive cannot deny non-religious category persons the benefits due to them merely because they do choose not to belong to any community or caste."A government which claims to be progressive cannot deny the benefit due to citizens belonging to Economically Weaker Sections merely for the reason that they do not belong to any community or caste. Therefore, the government has to formulate a policy and guidelines for issuing community certificates to persons like the petitioners who have declared themselves to be non-religious. Appropriate steps in this regard ought to be taken by the government at the earliest," the Court said in its order..The Court was considering a petition moved by several students who, having passed Class XII, had declared themselves as falling in the non-religious category for college admission.The petitioners moved the Court as they were seeking admission to colleges under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS), not falling under the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe/ Other Backward Class categories.It was stated in the petition that as per the 103rd amendment of the Constitution, the State government has been given the power to provide reservation to EWS persons who do not fall within the SC/ST/OBC categories.The plea pointed out that students who had declared themselves as non-religious but as falling under the Forward Community category were issued community certificates accordingly.The State government later issued a list based on the recommendation of the Forward Community Commission whereby only persons who declared their caste and community were included.However, it was claimed that those who declared themselves as non-religious were not included in EWS for the purpose of education and employment by the State government."Thus the petitioners who belong to EWS falling under the non-religious category, have now been denied 10% reservation meant for other EWS communities other than SC/ST/OBC category," the plea said.The petitioners contended that by not including non-religious category under the list issued by it, the State government violated Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution by denying the benefits of EWS reservation to them.Therefore, they approached the Court seeking orders to the State government to include non-religious persons, who also belong to EWS, in the list so that they can avail the reservation meant for EWS..During the previous hearing, Justice Arun had remarked that in a secular country like India, persons who make the conscious choice to declare themselves as non-religious must be commended."This is a conscious decision by a group of persons that they will not join any community, they don't want to be stamped as belonging to any particular community, as they are non religious. I think they should be rewarded for taking such a stance. Our Constitution says we are a secular country and they have chosen to be secular, non-religious," the judge had orally remarked..Today, the Court directed the respondents to issue the petitioners with certificates in the non-religious category so that they can seek reservation if they satisfy all other requirements for the same."In the meanwhile, the petitioners shall be issued with certificates in the non-religious category so as to enable them to seek the 10% reservation available to EWS students belonging to communities other than SC/ST/OBC, provided the petitioners satisfy the other requirements," the Court ordered..The petitioners were represented by advocates Madhu Radhakrishnan, MD Joseph, Nelson Joseph and Deepak Ashok Kumar..The matter will be considered again after the upcoming Onam holidays.