The Supreme Court’s refusal to vacate the stay on the 27 per cent quota in central educational institutions has come as a setback to the reservation policy of the UPA Government.
But it cannot blame anybody else for its situation. Despite having twice suffered dismissal of its plea for vacating the stay, the Centre hardly did anything to address the court’s concerns on the OBC quota law.
In its March 29 order the court had said the 1931 census figures (relating to undivided India) could not be relied upon to determine backwardness of the castes sought to be given benefit of the law.
“What may have been relevant in 1931 census may have some relevance but can not be the determinative factor,” it had said, adding the Centre could initiate or continue the process, if any, for OBCs database notwithstanding pendency of the cases.
However, the government has not done the exercise. In the Mandal verdict on OBC quota in jobs in 1992, it had directed the Centre to set up a permanent body by March 15, 1993 for examining and recommending for inclusion or exclusion in the lists of backward classes of citizens. While staying the OBC quota, the court had pointed out that even in the Mandal case, it was held that “inclusion of castes in the list of backward classes cannot be mechanical and cannot be done without adequate relevant data”.
Further, despite knowing well that exclusion of creamy layer is a constitutional requirement, the government chose to include it in the law under challenge.
Even the argument that seats would increased to ensure general category candidates would not be adversely affected fell flat after the government failed to specifically say how many seats had been increased in which all institutions.
The government could not satisfactorily explain any new ground or change in circumstance since the dismissal of its second plea in May.