Archive for the ‘Reservations’ Category

Ambedkar lesson for JNU & DU in court

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The country would not have had a B.R. Ambedkar and its “brilliant Constitution” if he was denied college admission over low marks, the Supreme Court said today, criticising JNU and Delhi University for failing to fill OBC quotas.

“The minimum pass mark those days was 35 per cent. Dr Ambedkar had got 37 per cent marks. If you had denied him admission at the threshold, would you have had a Dr Ambedkar and a brilliant Constitution?” a two-judge bench said while hearing a plea against the OBC reservation policies of the two universities.

OBC reservations at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) have never in the past three years touched the 27 per cent mandated under a 1993 central act.

In 2008-09, it reserved only 12 per cent seats, excluding the creamy layer that was expected to compete in the general category. While only 9.93 per cent got in through the quota, another 10.33 per cent came in on merit. JNU then showed its total OBC reservation for the year as 20.26 per cent.

Delhi University (DU) has been giving a 10 per cent relaxation in marks to OBC candidates over the general category percentage but with cut-offs touching almost 100 per cent, OBC students are expected to get a minimum of 90 per cent to get into some of its elite colleges.

To justify this, DU has fallen back on a 2008 Supreme Court judgment that said the difference between the general cut-off and backward cut-off should not be more than 10 per cent. The aim was to balance the needs of the weaker sections with considerations of merit.

As a result of the cut-off mechanism, effective OBC reservation in DU has been in single digits, virtually nullifying the central act.

Both universities have been diverting the vacant OBC seats to the general category, something the top court had said earlier they could do.

But at today’s hearing, Justice R.V. Raveendran, sitting alongside Justice A.K. Patnaik, suggested the merit argument was being stretched too far. “Let us not harp only on merit. Equality is only equality between equals, not unequals. Some push is necessary for some, whether some like it or dislike it,” said Raveendran, who was part of a five-judge bench that had in 2008 upheld the 27 per cent quota.

To say general candidates have 90 per cent and no OBC students with less than 80 per cent will get in is “very “unreasonable”, Raveendran said.

“Institutions are required to help them (weaker sections). Money gives you access to better coaching, better standard of living. So more marks does not mean more clever. You (the varsities) must take material that is not the best and make them the best. You cannot insist that you will take the best,” he said, appearing to suggest high scores could come from having had facilities weaker sections often don’t have.

The strong pro-quota observations by the judge and his presence on the bench that had upheld the OBC quota law prompted a response from a group of anti-reservation students. P.P. Rao, the group’s lawyer, insisted the judges send back the matter to Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia to be placed before another bench.

Rao kept emphasising the minority judgment of Justice Dalveer Bhandari in the five-judge bench judgment which had warned against a too large gap between cutoffs for general students and those from weaker sections. He implied that another judge (Justice Raveendran) could not interpret Bhandari’s words. Justice Raveendran then recused himself from the matter, ensuring the debate remained inconclusive.


OBC admissions case referred to CJI for posting before another Bench

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Supreme Court of India - Central Wing

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A two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday referred to Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia the case on the plea for uniform admission norms for OBC students in central universities of excellence for posting before another Bench.

Justices R.V. Raveendran and A.K. Patnaik made the request to the CJI after senior counsel P.P. Rao, appearing for an intervener, suggested that the case be heard by a Bench which includes Justice Dalveer Bhandari, who, in his judgment in the OBC quota case, used the expression “cut-off” marks.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by the then CJI, K.G. Balakrishnan, had upheld the 27 per cent quota for the Other Backward Classes in central universities of excellence. Subsequently, another Constitution Bench gave a clarification on cut-off marks.

Mr. Rao submitted before the Justice Raveendran Bench that since the issue involved clarification and interpretation of what was said by Justice Bhandari, either the Constitution Bench should clarify or Justice Bhandari should be included in this Bench or it should go before a Bench having Justice Bhandari.

Justice Raveendran told Mr. Rao: “This is an unknown submission. If it [judgment] is a decision of the Supreme Court then every judge of this court can issue a clarification and interpret the judgment of this court. You can’t say that since the judgment was delivered by a particular judge then it should go to that judge for interpretation. Your plea is unheard of in the Supreme Court.”

He said: “If you want us to recuse [ourselves] then we can do that.” However, whether the matter should go to a three-judge Bench or a constitution Bench, it is for the CJI to decide.

As Mr. Rao reiterated that “normal courtesy is that the clarification and modification of the order should go to the judge who had pronounced it,” Justice Raveendran said, “I am on the verge of retirement. I don’t want to place myself in any controversy. It is an issue that involves sentiments of the people.”

As Justice Raveendran was recusing himself from the matter, senior counsel A. Suba Rao, who appeared for the Centre, said Mr. P.P. Rao was appearing for an intervener and he [Justice Raveendran] need not recuse himself on his plea.

At this, Justice Raveendran said maybe Mr. Rao did not mean what he said, “but he was acting on the instruction of his client.”

The Bench then directed that the matter be placed before the CJI for listing before an appropriate Bench.

Counsel wants Justice Bhandari to be part of Bench hearing the issue