India Education
Apex court to hear petitions challenging quota tomorrow
May 7, 2007 - 6:29:01 PM

New Delhi, May 7 - The Supreme Court will hear Tuesday a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of a law providing 27 percent reservation for Other Backward Classes - students in elite central educational institutions for 2007-2008.

A bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta, the same bench that declined to lift the stay on the implementation of the quota, will take up the petitions in the final hearing also.

After the bench refused to vacate the stay order passed on March 29, the central government had requested Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan for early hearing in the case, and accordingly the matter was posted for final disposal Tuesday.

The central government had wanted the cases to be heard by a five-judge constitution bench as questions of law of great public importance were involved in the matter. It is likely the government will press for referring the matter to a larger bench.

Passing orders on a batch of writ petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Central Educational Institutions - Act, 2006, the court stayed the implementation of the law providing 27 percent quota for OBCs. The government sought clarification of this order and it was rejected on April 23.

Subsequently, the Tamil Nadu government and the Rashtriya Janata Dal filed applications seeking to plead in the case in support of the central government.

Justifying the 1931 census as the basis for arriving at the 27 percent quota for OBCs, Tamil Nadu said 'collection of caste-wise details was dispensed with after 1931 census. The only source in which the details are available is the 1931 census and therefore there is no harm in adopting the population and other details available in the above census'.

It said: 'The Mandal Commission has estimated the population of OBCs in the country as 52 percent of the total population in the report submitted in 1980. There is no chance to get reduction in the above percentage and in any case not below 27 percent. The 27 percent reservation proposed by Government of India appears to be genuine and deserves to be upheld.'

The RJD also justified the law and pleaded for vacating the interim stay.

On Monday, five MPs belonging to the Pattali Makkal Katchi, a constituent of the ruling United Progressive Alliance, filed an application supporting the government's stand that the creamy layer - should not be removed while implementing the quota law.

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