The Supreme Court on Monday said that seats remaining vacant after implementing the 27 per cent OBC quota in central educational institutions have to go to General Category candidates in the same academic year and cannot be carried forward to be filled later.
Though no formal order was passed in this regard, the apex court, during a brief hearing was not in agreement with the Centre's stand that the unfilled OBC seats can be accumulated for three years before being alloted to General Category.
"Our judgment has clearly said don't allow seats to be vacant," Justice Arijit Pasayat, who was the member of the five-judge Constitution Bench decision on the 27 per cent OBC quota, said.
"That (leaving the seats vacant) will go counter-productive. The anxiety was to see that seats should not go waste," he said.
The remarks came when Solicitor General G E Vahanvati was referring to the judgement on the issue written by another member of the Bench, Justice Dalveer Bhandari.
The Solictor General said that suppose every year nine per cent seats are increased to give effect to 27 per cent OBC quota, only the vacant seats accumulated at the end of third year would be filled by the General Category.
However, the Bench was surprised by the stand of the Centre to fill the left-over vacancies in a staggered manner and said "till three years you will wait to fill that vacancies."
After the brief hearing, the five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, which on April 10 had upheld the validity of the controversial law providing 27 per cent quota for OBC, said it will hear in detail on October 14, the issue relating to it.
When the hearing commenced, senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for anti-quota petitioners, said that the issue of cut-off marks has been settled and institutions have accepted that the difference in cut-off marks for OBC candidates and General Category students will be not more than five to 10 marks.
He said it has been left to the individual institution concerned to decide the difference in cut-off marks, i e either difference can be of 10 marks or five marks.
While maintaining that merit should not be totally sacrificed, Justice Pasayat and Justice C K Thakker (both wrote one judgement) were of the view that the difference in cut-off marks for the two categories cannot be more than five marks.
Justice Bhandari had extended the permissible difference between the two categories to 10 marks.
The Bench on September 15 had observed that huge difference in the cut-off marks would be "counter-productive" to the excellence of the educational institutions.
During the hearing, the Bench was informed that the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has started the process to fill the vacant OBC seats with General Category students and IITs have not diluted the cut-off marks fixed for the OBCs to fill the left over seats with the General Category applicants.
Vahanvatu said that no general category candidate below 172 marks, the cut-off for the OBC, was given admission in the remaining seats left vacant after the implementation of the Act and in JNU 54 such seats have been filled and still there are 29 vacant seats.
The apex court on September 15 had clarified 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.
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