Legal Correspondent

Will take up Government’s application for vacating stay

Bench to examine if caste-based quota is divisive

Centre’s plea also to be taken up on Tuesday

New Delhi: A three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday petitions challenging the provisions of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 and the 93rd Constitution Amendment law under which legislation was enacted. The Act provides for 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in higher educational institutions.

Fresh application

The Bench, comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari, will examine whether quota, based solely or principally on caste, is impermissible under Article 15 of the Constitution. It would also go into “whether reservation that relies significantly on ‘caste’ to identify its beneficiaries is inherently divisive and incompatible with the unity and integrity of the nation.” The Centre on Monday filed a fresh application for vacating the March 29 interim stay order that restrained the Government from implementing the quota law for the academic year 2007-2008.

The Bench will take up this application too for hearing on Tuesday following a mention made on Monday by Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam for listing it along with the main petitions.

The Government said that subsequent to the stay order, the apex court, in the case of Voice (Consumer Care Council) vs State of Tamil Nadu (questioning the validity of the 69 per cent quota law in Tamil Nadu) had directed the creation of additional seats for the “open category” candidates, who in the opinion of the court were deprived of admission due to reservation provided for in the impugned Act. It said the solution of increasing the seats adopted by the apex court to offset any possible reduction of seats for the general category had served the public interest and struck a pragmatic balance of convenience for all sections.

The Centre said the 2006 Act also followed the same principle and protected the number of seats available to the general category in the previous academic year while increasing seats for the socially and educationally backward classes and proportionately for the SC/STs. It was, therefore, not detrimental to the interests of any section of the population.

It said that if the stay continued to be operative, a large number of candidates selected against the seats reserved for OBCs in IITs/IIMs would not be able to get admission and would, therefore, lose one year. Several hundred OBC students would lose their seats and the loss irreparable. On the other hand, implementation of the legislation would not affect the rights of the students belonging to non-reserved categories, as additional seats were being provided for the OBCs, the Centre said.

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