The UPA government has sought to defend its reservation policy in the Supreme Court asserting that it was a means to integrate the nation disintegrated by the caste-ridden society.
Ahead of the May 8 hearing of petitions challenging the law providing for 27 per cent quota for OBC in central educational institutions including IIMs and IITs, the Centre said the reservation policy in fact strengthened the unity and integrity of the nation.
"Reservation policy is not disintegrative and is not against the unity and integrity of the nation; on the contrary, reservation policy is a means of integrating the society disintegrated over the centuries by the age-old caste-system," the Centre said in its affidavit filed in the apex court.
Judicial pronouncements, especially the Indra Sawhney case (Mandal case), have all along supported this view, it said adding the quota laws did not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.
The Centre justified the 93rd Constitutional Amendment that added clause (5) to Article 15 to facilitate framing of laws to provide reservation for socially and educationally backward classes and defended the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission), Act, 2006.
Both are under challenge before the apex court, which stayed the operation of the provisions of the Act that provided for 27 per cent quota for OBCs from the coming academic year.
The Centre submitted that not giving reservation to the SCs, STs and socially and educationally backward classes/OBCs would be violation of the basic structure of the Constitution.
The petitioners had argued that the Centre’s reservation policy was against the unity and integrity of the country and that the implementation of the OBC quota law would affect the rights of the non-reserved category candidates.
However, the Centre tried to dispel the impression that giving 27 per cent reservation to OBCs in Central Educational Institutions would adversely affect the rights of the general category candidates as additional seats had been created for the OBC candidates.
On the criteria for inclusion in the OBC list, the Centre said the lists were prepared after due enquiry and investigation and had stood the test of time and judicial scrutiny in the 1992 Mandal case.
It justified the exclusion of minority institutions from the purview of quota law, saying it was done in accordance with constitutional provisions on minority rights.
Earlier, a day after a Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat declined to lift the stay on implementation of law providing for OBC quota in educational institutions from the coming academic session, Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan on April 24 advanced the case’s hearing to May 8.
The court had on March 29 stayed the implementation of the 27 per cent quota for OBCs on the ground that the law did not exclude creamy layer and the 1931 census figures could not be relied upon to determine backwardness of castes.
"What may have been relevant in 1931 census may have some relevance but can not be the determinative factor," it had held.