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SC to Govt: Explain basis, modalities for reservation

The court, while issuing notice, granted 8 weeks to Govt to file counter-affidavit on implementation of the quota policy.

india Updated: May 29, 2006 19:56 IST

With the deadlock on the quota issue continuing, the Supreme Court on Monday decided to examine the government's controversial move to provide 27 per cent reservation to socially and economically backward classes in higher educational institutions.

Questioning the basis on which government decided to go ahead with reservation, a vacation Bench comprising Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice LS Panta issued notice to the Centre directing it to explain the modalities to be adopted for its implementation.

Taking serious note of the concern raised during the hearing that adoption of such a policy would divide the country on caste basis, the court sought response from government as to what would be the basis for identifying OBCs.

"These questions have serious social and political ramifications and this court will deal with it appropriately," the Bench said while deciding to examine the effect of the implementation of the policy.

Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian, who accepted the notice on behalf of the Centre, said the court has touched upon the core issue relating to reservation.

The court sought counter affidavit within eight weeks from the concerned ministries like Social Justice and Empowerment, Human Resource Development, Science & Technology, Commerce, Health and Department of Statistics and Programme on the petitions filed by advocate Ashoka Kumar Thakur and Shiv Khera challenging the validity of the Constitution 93rd amendment extending reservation for OBCs.

The court appealed to the agitating students to give up the strike under the backdrop of its decision to examine the whole issue.

The petitions filed separately by Thakur and Khera sought quashing of the proposal of reservations contending that it was ultra vires to the Constitution.

Thakur in his petition submitted that the Centre intends to push the higher reservation quota, which requires a survey for an exact estimate of OBCs share in the total population.

"The recommendation is considered important precisely for the reason that if it is accepted it will lead to first ever caste-based census since 1931 when the practice was dropped," the advocate said.

Contending that the apex court has already settled the issue of reservation which cannot be more than 50 per cent, the advocate sought a direction for warding off of creamy layer from the scheme as was held in the Mandal case in 1992.

Khera contended that the amendment to insert clause 5 in Article 15 of the Constitution was with the intention to overcome the law laid down by the seven-judge Constitution Bench which had held that the state cannot impose its quota policy on minority and non-minority unaided private colleges including professional colleges.

The amendment has conferred unlimited and arbitrary power on the state to make reservations in all the educational institution, his counsel Vivek Tankha said.

First Published: May 29, 2006 02:07 IST