Can’t touch seats reserved for OBC students: Apex court (Lead)

August 3rd, 2011 - 9:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 3 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday said conversion of seats reserved for students belonging to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) to general category seats in central educational institutions was not permissible.

The apex court bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik said this while reserving its verdict on a petition by P.V. Indiresan, former director of Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai.

The petitioner challenged the Sep 7, 2010, verdict of the Delhi High Court which said that the minimum eligibility marks for admission under the OBC category would be 10 percent below the minimum eligibility marks fixed for general category students.

The process to take away the OBC seats for conversion into general category seats was not permissible, said Justice Raveendran.

The court said this when senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the petitioner, said that in case the court decided the issue against him then it must ensure that 50 percent seats earmarked for general category students were not encroached upon by OBC candidates even if some of them entered a university by taking the merit route.

When a lawyer referred to Justice Raveendran’s observation Tuesday that rules of the game couldn’t be changed after its start, the judges said that what they meant was that it had to be decided in advance at what point the process of the admission of the OBC students under the reserved category would start and what would be the cut-off marks.

Venugopal sought to make a distinction between the reservation for the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and the OBC and said they could not be placed at par because social ostracism suffered by the former did not visit the latter.

Justice Patnaik asked Venugopal that when the law used the same language for extending reservation to the OBC as it did in the case of SC/ST, then how could he interpret it differently.

While reserving its verdict, the court gave all the contending parties time till Monday to submit their written submissions.

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