Anti-quota petitioners on Tuesday vehemently opposed before the Supreme Court the Centre’s plea to vacate the stay on implementing 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in central educational institutions from 2007-08.
As Solicitor General GE Vahanvati started his arguments before a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, several senior counsel representing the anti-quota groups stood up to oppose the Centre’s latest move to implement the controversial decision from this academic year.
Senior counsels Rajeev Dhavan, Mukul Rohtagi and ML Lahoty sought to know if a three-judge bench can review an order passed by a two-judge bench.
"It is actually a review of the review," Dhavan said, pointing out that Justice Pasayat's bench had already dismissed the plea against the stay and that most of the points raised in the application had been rejected.
They submitted that a constitution bench should hear the matter and the issues referred to the larger bench should be finally decided.
Vahanvati, who wanted a decision to be reached on the application before the matter went to a constitution bench, submitted that the OBC quota law would not come in the way of general category students as the number of seats have been increased to ensure that they continue to get the same number of seats.
The bench asked the anti-quota parties to file their replies to the Centre's application within 10 days and declared July 31 as the date of hearing. However, whether a constitution bench should hear the case or not would be decided next week itself.
Youth For Equality and others have challenged the validity of the 93rd Amendment and the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 that envisaged 27 per cent quota for OBCs in central educational institutions, including the Indian Institutes of Management and Indian Institutes of Technology.
The Centre has said the stay on the operation of the Act would cause irreparable loss as the admission process had started and several hundred OBC candidates would lose their seats.
Another bench of the court had on Monday stayed the implementation of 27 per cent quota for OBCs in Delhi University and the Pune-based Symbiosis International University.
Taking note of the "considerable importance" of the issues involved and the likely impact on the social life of the country, Justice Pasayat's bench had on May 17 referred the petitions concerned to a larger bench after framing as many as 30 constitutional questions to be considered.