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SC notice to govt on quota
Hopes medicos will end agitation
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 29
The Supreme Court today took cognizance of two writ petitions challenging the UPA Government’s decision to introduce 27 per cent reservation for OBCs and sought reply from the Centre as to what formed the basis for fixing the quota.

Questioning the manner in which reservation was sought to be implemented and whether it did have the potential of “dividing society on caste lines,” a Bench of Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat and Mr Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta framed three questions to be answered by the government in its affidavit to be filed in eight weeks.

The second PIL petition, filed by a social activist, challenged the validity of the 93rd Constitution Amendment inserting Clause 5 in Article 15 which enabled the Central and state governments to frame law for the introduction of reservation for OBCs in institutions of higher learning and private colleges.

When a stay was sought on the Centre’s decision, the court said since it was a policy matter, no interim stay could be granted without knowing the stand of the government.

The Bench said the government should answer the three questions emerging from the first PIL—what was the basis of fixation of reservation norms for OBCs; what was the rationale for determining who was an OBC member; and what were the modalities to implement the reservation policy and basis for deciding such modalities.

It said the fourth question— whether the decision would have “serious repercussion” on the social and political fabric of the country and had the potential of dividing it on caste lines—would be examined by it later after the reply was received from the government. The petitioners were asked to submit rejoinders in six weeks.

The court expressed hope that after its cognizance of the PIL petitions on the issue, the ongoing agitation against reservation would stop. But the Bench made it clear that it was not making any observation on the merit of the agitation.

Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam, who accepted the notice on behalf of the government, told the court that the question of “creamy layer” would be taken into account while implementing reservation in IITs, IIMs, AIIMS and other professional institutions.

The social activist’s counsel said: “The Supreme Court is the last hope for the agitating students when no one is listening to them. It is the voice of the nation and its youth, who are looking to the apex court as their last refuge.” 
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