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SC posts govt quota petition for April 23

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Last updated on: April 18, 2007 16:24 IST
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The Supreme Court of India will hear the government of India's review petition on OBC reservation on April 23 and decide whether or not the petition is maintainable. The matter came up for hearing Wednesday afternoon.

Justices Arijit Pasayat and L S Panta made it clear that the government has to satisfy that it was not seeking a review of the March 29 stay order.

The posting of the case for April 23 acquires significance in the context of the IIMs' virtual ultimatum to the government that they would go ahead with the admissions without the OBC quota for the coming academic session if they did not not hear anything from the government by April 21.

Earlier, the bench said it had gone through the Centre's application and found that its essence appeared to be a review petition against the Mar 29 stay on implementation of the 27 per cent OBC quota in elite central institutions like the IITs and IIMs.

When an advocate sought to know from the bench whether the March 29 ruling was an advice or an order, a plea mentioned in the government petition citing different opinions within the government, Justice Pasayat remarked, "We do not give advice."

The judges said the Centre has to satisfy the court that it was not seeking a review of its interim order. Only then will it pass an order, they observed.

"Prima facie it appears that it is an application for review of the March 29 order," the bench observed while deciding to hear the maintainability of the application.

The Solicitor General said that he has instruction to give an undertaking to the court that there will be no reduction of seats, which were available in the 'General' category in each Central Educational Institution during the immediately preceding academic session of 2006.

He said the policy of reservation will be implemented simultaneously and limited to the expansion in capacity of CEIs.

The students belonging to the OBCs (and the proportionate increase of seats for the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe) shall be admitted only against the increased seats so that there is no adverse effect on the numbers of seats in general category, Vahanvati said.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman Prakash Javadekar has criticised the government for not presenting the facts of the review petition before the division bench of the apex court when the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday afternoon.

"When the court asked the government counsel whether the petition was a review petition or it was seeking clarification from the court the government could not give any answer. I hope they are better prepared next time," Javadekar said.

He ridiculed the government's commitment to the social cause by failing to put up defence in favour of the reservation for the OBCs.

With PTI inputs

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi