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Vacant OBC seats will go to General Category: SC

Monday, 15 September 2008
New Delhi, Sep 15: The Supreme Court today said that seats remaining vacant after the implementation of 27 per cent OBC quota in central educational institutions like IITs and IIMs will go to general category candidates and it would be "desirable" not to have huge difference in cut-off marks.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, which on April 10 had upheld the validity of the controversial law providing quota, was unanimous that there was no confusion on the issue as the three judges had clearly stated that no seats would go vacant.

The anti-quota petitioners drew the attention of the bench that even after the implementation of the law -- the Central Educational Institution (Reservation in admission) -- seats have remained vacant and there was a confusion over it.

Senior advocate K K Venugopal referred to the two judgements, one written by Justices Arijit Pasayat and C K Thakker and another by Justice Dalveer Bhandari, to buttress the stand that the seats added in the 27 per cent OBC quota which remained vacant after implementation of the Act cannot go waste.

"What is the confusion. It was clarified in the judgement itself that the seats remaining vacant will go to the General Category," Justice Pasayat said.

"Both the judgements clearly said that such vacant seats will go to the general category," added Justice Bhandari.

At the outset when Venugopal said there was a need for clarification on the aspect of vacant seats, Justice Pasayat said, "This (wasting of seats) cannot be allowed. It will go back to the general category".

"The reservation was not for ensuring that even if they (OBC) are not there, it will not go to others," Pasayat said adding that "it is very clear. The intention was that don't leave the seats vacant. The intention was to give better education." The anti-quota petitioners claimed that 432 seats remained vacant and if the Ministry of Human Resource was not adhering to the apex court judgement then it was inviting contempt.

However, Solicitor General G E Vahanvati said he will get back to the Court after seeking instructions from the Centre whether seats are vacant or not.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on September 29.

The issue of cut-off marks also came up for discussion during the brief hearing in which Venugopal said merit should not be totally sacrificed.

He said while Justice Pasayat and Thakker were of the view that the difference in cut-off marks between the two category cannot be more than five marks Justice Bhandari had extended it to 10 marks.

Both the judgements clearly stated that "don't deviate from merit", the senior advocate said.

Though the Bench was in agreement with the submission, Justice Pasayat observed "it had not given a specific direction but had said that it is desirable not to have much difference".

The Bench was of the view that huge difference in the cut-off marks would be "counter-productive" to the excellence of the educational institutions.

Venugopal had submitted that the difference in the cut-off marks should not be such that it affects the basic standards of education and the cut-off marks should not be below a particular limit which would make it difficult with the students and faculty to cope up with the curriculum.

The five-judge Bench is also seized of another controversial issue concerning the April 10 judgement as anti-quota petitioners have contended that majority verdict has set a benchmark that a graduate cannot be considered educationally backward. This aspect had reached the apex court after Calcutta High Court had stayed the implementation of the 27 per cent quota for them in Central educational institutions.

However, on May 16 a Bench headed by the CJI had stayed the High Court order and admissions had started on the condition that it will be provisional subject to the final outcome in the matter.

The apex court had stayed all proceedings relating to OBC quota that were pending in the High Courts of Delhi, Calcutta and Bombay and issued notices to those petitioners, including Delhi-based Youth for Equality, on the Centre's petition seeking transfer of those matters to the apex court.


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