India Education
Supreme Court to take up quota plea on April 23
Apr 18, 2007 - 4:56:01 PM

New Delhi, April 18 - The Supreme Court will decide on April 23 whether the union government's plea seeking revival of quotas for other backward classes - students in centrally funded higher educational institutions is worth hearing.

Fixing the hearing on the question of maintainability of the government's plea, a bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and L.S. Panta Wednesday told the government's counsel to first satisfy the court that it was not a review petition, but one merely seeking clarification and modification of the March 29 interim order suspending quotas for OBC students.

The government had moved the apex court Monday seeking revival of the law reserving 27 percent seats in institutes like IIMs and IITs for OBCs.

As Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati and Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam approached the court at 2 p.m. and formally informed it about the government's application, they were told: 'Your application prima facie appears to be a review petition.'

'You first satisfy us on the maintainability of the petition; we will then go into its merit,' the bench said.

At this, Vahanvati said he was 'under instructions from the government to submit three things'.

'Firstly, there will be absolutely no reduction in number of seats, which were available to the general category non-reserved students in the last academic session 206.

'Secondly, the policy of reservation will be implemented simultaneously and will be limited to the capacity-expansion of central educational institutions.

'Thirdly, the students belonging to OBC and scheduled castes and tribes will be admitted only against the increased number of seats in these institutions, without adversely affecting the prospects and opportunities to the general category students.'

The solicitor general added that the government was prepared to give an undertaking on these three counts.

Unimpressed by Vahanvati's submissions, the bench said, 'All these submissions had already been made earlier by Additional Solicitor General Subramaniam but stand rejected.'

'What is new in it,' the bench asked.

'We are putting it in writing now,' Vahanvati retorted.

The bench reiterated that it first needed to hear the arguments on question of maintainability of the petition and fixed April 23 for the same.

Earlier in the morning, when the law officers had approached the bench to mention the government's plea, they were asked to do so at 2 p.m.

The court said it wanted to have a look at the petition before fixing the date for its hearing.

The government is seeking an early hearing of its petition seeking vacation of the court's March 29 order and revival of the quota law.

Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan had Tuesday constituted the bench of Justices Pasayat and Panta to facilitate early hearing of the government's plea. The same bench had stayed the law March 29.

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