The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered that Other Backward Classes (OBCs) seats not filled up due to want of eligible OBC candidates can be allotted to general category candidates in all central educational institutions (CEIs).
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, which upheld the OBC quota law on April 10, 2008, directed the CEIs to complete admission process latest by October 31, 2008 in accordance with the rules and regulations of the respective institution.
The court asked the anti-quota petitioners to file a fresh petition when senior counsel K.K. Venugopal questioned the legality of the Centre’s decision to raise the creamy layer exemption limit from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 4.5 lakh.
On creamy layer
“We will try to take out the cream out of the creamy layer,” Justice Arijit Pasayat said.
Now it is clear that the Government’s move will be challenged in the court and subjected to a judicial scrutiny.
Venugopal said only last year in the Nair Society case the Supreme Court struck down a similar move by the Kerala Government raising the creamy layer exemption limit to Rs 3 lakh.
He pointed out that the Centre itself had filed an affidavit claiming that over 97 per cent of the OBC population earned barely Rs 80 a day i.e. about Rs 30,000 a year. In such a situation raising the creamy layer exemption limit for the OBCs would only benefit the well off among the backwards.
However, Justice R.V. Raveendran countered his argument saying now even the salary of a peon was over two lakh. With the passage of time some change was needed.
Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati defended the government’s move, saying it was a balanced decision given the fact that some of the states had demanded that the creamy layer exemption limit be raised to Rs 18-20 lakh.
The constitution bench clarified that the cut off marks for OBC candidates cannot be beyond 10 per cent less than that of the general category. It said that the seats remaining vacant for want of eligible OBC candidates, out of the 27 per cent reserved for OBC, couldn’t be carried forward to the next academic year.
The court rejected the Centre's stand that the unfilled OBC seats be allowed to be accumulated for three years before being allotted to General Category students.