The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the Centre’s plea to vacate stay on the implementation of 27 per cent quota for OBCs in central educational institutions, including IITs and IIMs from the next academic year.
“We find no reason to vary the order dated March 29,” a Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat said on Monday while dismissing the Centre’s plea. The court also clarified that its March 29 stay on the OBCs reservation was ‘final’ for the academic year 2007-08.
Now it would be almost impossible for the Government to implement from the next academic year the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006, notified in January 2007, which provided for 27 per cent reservation to the OBCs in elite central educational institutions.
After dismissal of the Centre’s plea Solicitor General G E Vahanvati urged the court to refer the matter to a Constitution Bench under Article 145(3) of the Constitution as it involved important legal issues. However, the court said the plea could be considered only in August 2007 when the Constitutional validity of the impugned law was to be examined.
In fact, all through the 90-minute proceedings, the Centre did not have any new point to put across and the court kept on questioning the hurry.
"You have waited for 57 years. Why can't you wait for one more year," the Bench observed when the Solicitor General tried to impress upon it by arguing that the Government has increased the number of seats to ensure that the interest of general category candidates was not adversely affected.
“We don’t want that we play the game first and then frame the rules. We want rules first, then the game,” it observed.
The court did not appreciate the Centre’s argument that after the Mandal verdict in 1992, OBCs were already enjoying the benefit of reservation in Government jobs and there was no reason to deny it to them in education. It commented that if the Government could wait for 15 years to bring the logic of Mandal case, it could very well wait for one more year.
The Bench pointed out that in the Mandal case as also the recent Nagraj verdict, Constitution Benches excluded the creamy layer from the purview of quota benefits but the Government was not ready to accept it.
“You are treating the unequals and equals on the same footing…reservation is more necessary for the economically backward than the socially backward,” it observed.
The Centre has maintained that the concept of creamy layer laid in the two cases was vis-a-vis reservation in job and not with regard to quota in educational institutions.
Appearing for the anti-quota petitioners, senior counsel Harish Salve submitted there was no need for reservation if it has not worked in the last 50 years.
Meanwhile, Pan-IIM Alumni Association moved the apex court challenging the Union Human Resource Ministry ‘arm-twisting’ the IIMs to put in abeyance the admission process for the academic year 2007-08.
It has also challenged the system of case-based reservation in the country and demanded setting up of a non-political expert body to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of the current reservation policy in vogue since 1950.