Apex court rules against keeping reserved seats vacant

October 14th, 2008 - 7:35 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday held that the seats reserved for backward category students in the state-run higher educational institutions but left vacant due to their paucity must be diverted to the general category students every year.A five-judge constitutional bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan also held that the cut-off marks for admission for backward category students in a state-run educational institution of higher learning must not be relaxed beyond 10 percent of the cut-off marks for general category students.

It also ordered the government to fill the seats, reserved for backward category students in higher educational institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) but left vacant owing to their paucity this year, with general category students by Oct 30 this year.

The bench, which also included Justices Arijit Pasayat, C.K. Thakkar, R.V. Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari gave the ruling on a lawsuit seeking clarification of its Apr 10 verdict, which upheld the law for 27 percent quota for backward category students in state-run institutions of higher learning.

The plea had sought clarification on two counts: whether the seats in higher educational institutions, reserved for backward category students but left vacant due to their paucity, could be allocated to general category students.

It also sought clarification on whether the cut-off marks for admission for the backward category students could be relaxed beyond 10 percent of the cut-off marks for general category students.

The plea was made by various academicians in three high courts of Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata.

The apex court subsequently had transferred the plea to itself on a petition by the central government.

The bench gave its ruling following a brief argument by Attorney General Goolam E. Vahanvati and petitioners’ counsel K.K. Venugopal on the issue, during which the bench repeatedly disapproved the government’s stand to keep the seats vacant.

The government wanted institutions, increasing their seats in staggered manner, to keep them vacant at least for three years.

But the bench rejected the idea saying it would be a waste of national resources.

“You have created infrastructure for it (the enhanced number of backward category students). You have appointed faculty for them and then you want them to go waste,” remarked Justice Bhandari.

“Then the very purpose of our saying (in the Apr 10 ruling) that no seat goes vacant is frustrated,” observed Justice Pasayat.

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