Supreme Court on Friday directed the Gujarat government not to disturb the admissions already granted in educational institutions under the controversial ordinance providing a quota for the economically backward among the unreserved category including the agitating Patel community, which has been quashed by the high court.
The apex court also made it clear to the state government that since Gujarat high court has quashed the notification pertaining to the implementation of the ordinance, no further action can be taken for implementing the quota policy aimed at providing 10% seats in educational institutions and services to economically weaker sections from the general category, during the pendency of the matter before it.
A bench, comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, admitted the appeal filed by the Gujarat government against the August 4 order of the high court quashing the May 1 ordinance providing 10% quota, terming it as “inappropriate and unconstitutional”.
The bench, which sought the response of the parties which had contested the ordinance, said the matter would be first listed before a three-judge bench, and if required, that bench can refer it to a larger bench of five-judges.
“Pending further order, we direct that the admissions made prior to the judgement of the high court will not be disturbed during the pendency of the matter here.
“Since the high court has quashed the notification, we make it clear that no further action would be taken towards implementation of the said notification,” the bench said after a brief hearing.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Gujarat government, submitted that the ordinance was effectively challenged with regard to medical colleges and the state has decided not to give effect to the implementation of the ordinance for admissions in medical colleges.
He said the real objective was to give opportunities to economically backward sections from the general category in services and medical colleges but since the ordinance has been quashed, it is non-operational.
The Attorney General said the 10% quota policy would have been beneficial in engineering colleges as even now 5,000 seats are vacant.
The apex court had on September 2 agreed to advance the date of hearing on Gujarat’s plea challenging quashing of its ordinance on the ground that counselling for MBBS admission would end soon.
Gujarat government had earlier urged preponement of hearing on its appeal, saying the fate of poor students of unreserved category needed to be decided so that they know whether they can avail the benefits of reservation or not.
The apex court had on August 29 extended by two weeks the interim stay on a Gujarat high court decision quashing the ordinance with a direction that there would be no admission till further orders.
While quashing the ordinance, the HC had stayed operation of its order by two weeks on the request of the state government to enable filing of an appeal in the apex court.
The high court had also rejected the state’s argument that it was a classification under the general category and not the reserved category and held that it will breach the 50% quota cap set by the Supreme Court.
The HC had observed that 10% reservation for poor among the unreserved category took the total quota beyond 50%, which was not permitted as per apex court’s earlier decision.
The high court had also said the government took the decision without any study or scientific data. Petitioners Dayaram Verma, Ravjibhai Manani, Dulari Basarge and Gujarat Parents’ Association had separately challenged the ordinance declaring reservation of 10% seats to candidates belonging to the unreserved category with family income cap of Rs 6 lakh annually in government jobs and educational institutions.
The state government had said the quota was actually “a further classification in general, open, unreserved category”.
The government, in its affidavit, had maintained that the ordinance did not violate the provisions of the Constitution, nor did it go against the apex court orders.