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SC upholds 27% OBC quota in higher education

Posted on 10 April 2008,    
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The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the 27 per cent OBC quota in central educational institutions, including IIMs and IITs. However, the court said no to inclusion of creamy layer in the 27% OBC reservation.

Earlier, the bench had reserved its verdict on November 1 last year after marathon arguments from both sides.
On behalf of the petitioners, senior counsel KK Venugopal, Rajeev Dhavan, Harish Salve and others had contended that the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006, was unconstitutional as the government went ahead with reservation for OBCs without identifying the intended beneficiaries.

The petitioners had challenged the 93rd Constitutional amendment adding Article 15(5) to the Constitution that enables the Centre/States to make law providing for reservation for OBCs in educational institutions.

They contended that caste couldn't be the sole basis for identifying the socially and educationally backward for the purpose of reservation as it ran contrary to the constitutional objective of achieving an egalitarian society. The government should first conduct a genuine exercise for identification of backwards based on verifiable data and then attempt implementation of any such law, the petitioners said.

They had objected to non-exclusion of creamy layer from the purview of the OBC quota law on the ground that it violated the Supreme Court's verdicts on the issue. Even the court had made it clear during the hearing that exclusion of affluent among the backwards was a must for implementation of reservation policy.

It is so because the well-off among the backwards become like the upper class and avail of the benefits to the disadvantage of the most backward segment of the OBC, which deserve the fruits of reservation policy, the bench said.

However, on behalf of the Centre and pro-quota petitioners, Solicitor General GE Vahanvati, Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, K. Parasaran and Ram Jethmalani had defended the law as being completely in tune with constitutional requirements. The government said there cannot be any time-limit for reservation.

The pro-quota advocates further contended that caste was a reality of the Indian society and it should - like in the case of reservation in public employment - form the sole basis for identification of backwardness among the OBCs. The government also defended the inclusion of creamy layer in the law.


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