Confusion prevails whether the law cleared by the Supreme Court pertaining to 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes in central educational institutions will be applicable in post-graduate courses as there was a difference of opinion among the five judges over the educational criteria to determine backwardness.
While delivering the judgment on Thursday, Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran, who rejected the contention that 10+2 should be the criteria to determine educational backwardness, did not dwell any further on the issue.
However, three other judges -- Justices Arijit Pasayat, C K Thakker and Dalveer Bhandari -- held that a person ceases to be educationally backward after graduation.
"Once he has graduated, he shall no longer enjoy the benefits of reservation. He is then deemed educationally forward," said Justice Bhandari.
"For admission into Master's programme, like Masters of Law, Masters of Arts and Masters in Engineering, none will be fortiori eligible for special benefits for admission into post graduation or any other studies thereafter," he said.
Justice Arijit Pasayat, who wrote the judgment along with Justice C K Thakker, concurred with Justice Bhandari, saying: "Secondary or matriculation examination can no longer be considered to be an appropriate benchmark. It has to be graduation."
"While determining backwardness, graduation (not technical graduation) or professional shall be the standard test yardstick for measuring backwardness," Justice Pasayat said.Without enumerating any specific criterion for educational backwardness, the Chief Justice, whose view was shared by Justice Raveendran, said: "We find no force in the contention of the petitioners (anti-quota) that backward classes should be determined on the basis of their attaining education only to the level of 10+2 stage."
Justice Bhandari said, "Once a candidate graduates from a University, he must be considered educationally forward. A candidate who has completed higher secondary education cannot be considered forward".
"The general quality of education imparted up to 10+2 is of extremely indifferent quality and apart from that, today some entry level government positions only accept college graduates. One is educationally backward until the candidate has graduated from a University," Justice Bhandari said.