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Tamil Nadu granted time to file reply on quota issue

Legal Correspondent

Supreme Court grants three months to Centre to file its additional response

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday granted three months to the Centre to file its additional response in the issue relating to the law providing for 27 per cent quota to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in higher educational institutions.

Time was also granted to place before the court the report of the Select Committee of Parliament that examined the Bill, which was passed in the last session of Parliament.

A Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia granted time on a request from counsel for the Centre. It is hearing a petition filed by Ashoka Kumar Thakur challenging the OBC quota policy announced by the Centre.

Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioner, said that though the quota Bill was passed and the President had given his assent, the Act was yet to be notified. The petitioner should be given liberty to challenge the law as and when the Act was notified and the Bench gave that liberty and adjourned the hearing to April.

Meanwhile, another Bench of Justices B.N. Agrawal and L.S. Panta asked the Tamil Nadu Government to file its response in four weeks to two petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the legislation providing for 69 per cent quota. Besides these two petitions, the Bench was hearing petitions questioning the directions of the Permanent Committee for Conducting Common Entrance Test issued in 2004 to private unaided self-financing engineering colleges to follow 69 per cent reservation in the management quota.

The petitions were filed by T.D. Naidu, president, All-India Medical and Engineering Colleges Association and the Consortium of Professional Arts and Science Colleges, Tamil Nadu against a judgment of the Madras High Court upholding the directions issued by the Permanent Committee.

During the last hearing, the apex court said that the matter would be listed for hearing after the judgment by the nine-judge Bench in the "Ninth Schedule case." Since the judgment in the case was delivered on January 11, the quota cases were listed for hearing on Monday. All the petitions, including the one filed by senior advocate K.M. Vijayan of Voice, are expected to be listed before a three-judge Bench once the Tamil Nadu Government filed its response.

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