J. Venkatesan

Centre's assurance to Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that the policy of providing 27 per cent reservation to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in higher educational institutions will be implemented only after a law is enacted by Parliament for which a Bill had already been introduced.

Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramanian made this submission before a Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Lokeshwar Singh Panta, hearing petitions filed by Ashoka Kumar Thakur and others challenging the proposed quota policy.

In the light of this statement, the Bench directed the Centre to submit the report of the Select Committee of Parliament examining the Bill introduced by the Government in August.

Taking exception to statements being made by various political leaders about implementation of the policy, the Bench told the ASG: "You [Government] go on say that you will implement the quota policy. Have you collected the data before making such announcements?"

Referring to the counter-affidavit, the Bench said: "You announce the policy without full data. You play the game and frame the rules later. You are saying that the quota for SC/ST and OBC are interchangeable. On what basis you are saying this? Further, you have not said anything about the `creamy layer'."

Mr. Subramanian said the Government was collecting data. A Bill was introduced in Parliament on August 24 and it had been referred to a select committee and its report was awaited. The report was likely to be submitted in the winter session of Parliament starting on November 27 and the policy would not be enforced till a law was in place.

The Bench then indicated that it would pass an order that no final decision should be taken by the Government till the matter was examined by the court. Mr. Subramanian then requested the court not to pass such an order and the Bench agreed and said the deliberations before the standing committee could go on.

Subsequently, the Bench in its brief order said: "We request the Parliament not to take any final decision on the Bill without our examining the matter." But after Mr. Subramanian pleaded with the court not to pass this order, the Bench deleted this sentence and gave a direction for submission of the standing committee's report and directed the listing of the petitions for further hearing on December 4.

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