India Education
Government seeks vacation of stay on quota law
Apr 16, 2007 - 7:06:48 PM

New Delhi, April 16 - The government Monday approached the Supreme Court pleading to revive the December 2006 law for the 27 percent reservation for Other Backward Classes - students in higher central educational institutions, suspended March 29.

The court however refused to commit itself to an early hearing of the plea and directed Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati to mention the matter before an appropriate bench.

As Vahanvati, after filing the application in the apex court's registry, mentioned the matter before a three-judge bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat and requested an early hearing, he was asked to mention the matter before the same bench that had given the stay.

Justice Pasayat told Vahanvati to mention the matter when he is sitting with Justice L.S. Panta, as the order had been passed when he was sitting with him.

Asked when he would be sitting with Justice Panta, Justice Pasayat said, 'I cannot say.'

Seeking to counter the court's observation that the law cannot be implemented on the basis of the 1931 census data, the government in its plea extensively utilised the apex court's 1993 order in the Indira Sawhney case on the legality of implementation of the Mandal Commission report and reservation of 27 percent state jobs for OBCs.

The application contended that when the OBC candidates could be granted 27 percent reservation in government jobs as per the Mandal Commission report that was largely based on the 1931 census data, there is no reason why the OBC students cannot be allocated 27 percent seats in higher educational institutions on the basis of the same data.

The government reminded the court that the data was considered and accepted by the apex court in the Indra Sawhney case.

It said while arriving at the 27 percent figure, the Mandal Commission had also done its own survey in 1979-80 in addition to the 1931 census figure.

Justifying the law, the Central Educational Institutions - Act, 2006, which the court stayed March 29, the government contended that the legislation would in no way affect the rights of the students belonging to non-reserved categories as OBC students would be admitted on additional seats, raised over and above what an institute earlier had for general category students.

The government made it clear that it does not subscribe to the view to keep the reservation benefits out of bounds for the creamy layer among targeted group of beneficiaries.

Asserting that, 'the reservation policy is not against the unity and integrity of the nation' the government said, 'On the contrary, reservation policy is a means of integrating the society disintegrated over the centuries-old caste system.'

'The policy seeks to strengthen the unity and integrity of the nation,' the government added.

Arguing that, 'reservation, whether in employment or in education, does not violate the basic structure or equality code of the constitution', the government said, 'The choice of reservation is not inappropriate and is justified.'

'There is nothing wrong or unconstitutional in specifying, in terms of units of castes, group of people as Socially and Educationally Backward Classes - on the basis of criteria of social and educational backwardness,' the government said and asserted that 'it's not anti-merit.'

It termed as 'baseless' the court's finding in its March 29 interim order that identification and listing of SEBC and OBC was done without adequately ascertaining the existence of backwardness and inadequacy of opportunity among the targeted group of beneficiaries.

It said 'If the legitimate aspirations of these classes for due share in the avenues for advancement are not satisfactorily addressed, it would affect the rule of law, law and order and the realisation of country's full potential.'

'It is within the competence and jurisdiction of the Parliament to take note of this and take remedial measures. This is what it has done and such response is indeed a feature of a vibrant democracy,' the government application said.

Seeking review of the apex court order, the government said, 'the stay on the operation of the law has resulted in irreparable loss as the admission process in various central institutions have already started and another one academic year will be lost, in case the stay was not vacated at the earliest.

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