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Last Updated: May 17, 2007 - 8:46:52 AM
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All-party meeting soon on court stay on quota
Mar 30, 2007 - 10:44:21 PM
Another Tamil Nadu party, PMK, staged a protest demonstration in the national capital against the ruling.

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[RxPG] New Delhi, March 30 - The central government is likely to hold an all-party meeting soon to discuss ways to overcome the Supreme Court stay on enforcement of quota for backward classes in higher educational institutions, Congress sources said here late Friday evening.

The meeting is likely to be held only after the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit next week, the sources said after the Congress' core group met late Friday to discuss ways on how to overcome the court ruling.

The assemblies of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh adopted resolutions urging the government to find ways to overcome the apex court's judgement and implement the controversial law that concerns nearly half of the country's population.

In an order on a bunch of petitions, the Supreme Court suspended the implementation of the 27 percent quota for socially and educationally backward classes - students for the coming academic session. The parliament had passed the law unanimously last December.

The court criticised the government for basing its quota system on a 1931 caste-based census data, saying what may have been valid data then could never be a determinative factor now to accord reservation.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's communist allies asked the government to have discussions with all political parties to explore ways to ensure that access to education does not remain with the privileged few.

'We are disturbed by the trend arising in the judiciary -.... Access to higher education has become the prerogative of the privileged few,' Communist Party of India-Marxist - general secretary Prakash Karat said Friday.

'Whatever safeguards remain for the others, especially those educationally backward, these doors are also being barred by the higher judiciary. The centre should take the counsel of all political parties to overcome this difficulty,' he said.

Although not willing for a confrontation with the judiciary, the Congress pointed out that the data that it had used to implement reservation for the OBCs in government jobs could also be the basis for reservation in education too.

'In the implementation of Mandal commission report -, the government used a data and that had been upheld by nine judges of the Supreme Court. That could be the basis for today also,' Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters.

But Singhvi said the decision should be taken by the government. 'It needs widest and deepest consultation. I am sure the government will take a decision.'

Explaining the options, Singhvi said the government could go for a fresh survey, which would take four years, or a sample survey, or there could be a constitutional amendment against the interim order.

Meanwhile, the Veerappa Moily, chairman of the oversight committee on the quota, gave a note to Prime Minister Manmohan singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi saying that that the court order of staying the enforcement of the law was 'just a suggestion' and the 'government is not bound to act upon it'.

Pointing out that the court's ruling suggested that it is 'desirable' if the government stays the enforcement of the law, Moily said the government need not give up the enforcement of the law. He maintained that the court has not said in black and white that it was staying the enforcement.

He also said it is preferable that the government collect all the statistics and submit it to the court.

However, Singhvi, a lawyer himself, said the court's ruling was 'a clear stay'.

Congress allies have been quite angry in their reaction to the court order.

DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, a crucial ally, sent letters to Manmohan Singh, Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to convene parliament to take a decision on the court ruling.

'They - look upon the government of India to come to their rescue and protect their right of reservation,' he said.

Another Tamil Nadu party, PMK, staged a protest demonstration in the national capital against the ruling.

The Congress-led government in Andhra Pradesh managed to pass a resolution asking the centre to take steps to ensure quota for the backward classes.

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