Supreme Court bench recuses itself from plea against OBC quota (Lead)

July 27th, 2011 - 10:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik, constituting a Supreme Court bench, Wednesday recused themselves from hearing a petition challenging allegedly flawed procedures being followed by the Delhi University and the Jawaharlal Nehru University for admitting students under the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) quota.

The bench recused itself from hearing the matter after senior counsel P.P. Rao told the court that the matter should be heard by a bench on which Justice Dalveer Bhandari is present because he had authored the judgment that is the bone of contention before the court.

Rao said that since the issue involves the clarification and interpretation of what was said by Justice Bhandari, the case should go back to him.

While referring the matter to Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia so that it could be listed before an appropriate bench, Justice Raveendran said: “I am on the verge of my retirement. I don’t want to place myself in any controversy.”

The constitution bench of the then chief justice K.G. Balakrishnan, former judges C.K. Thakker and Arijit Pasayat, Justice Raveendran and Justice Bhandari had upheld 27 percent OBC reservation.

Justice Bhandari gave a dissenting judgment and said: “I urge the government to set OBC cut-off marks no lower than 10 marks below that of the general category. This is only a recommendation.”

Responding to Rao, Justice Raveendran said: “This is an unknown submission. If it (judgment) is a decision of the Supreme Court, then every judge can issue clarification and interpret the judgment of this court. You can’t say that since judgment was delivered by a particular judge, it should go to that judge for interpretation.”

The court described Rao’s plea as “unheard of in the Supreme Court”.

Justice Raveendran told Rao: “If you want us to recuse, then we can do that.”

He said that whether the matter should go to a three-judge bench or the larger constitution bench was for Chief Justice Kapadia to decide.

While declaring the recusal of the bench, Justice Raveendran said: “It is an issue that involves the sentiments of the people.”

He said that no conditions could be imposed on the court that “you can’t be on this bench or that this judge should be there (on the bench)”.

As Justice Raveendran was recusing from the matter, senior counsel A. Subba Rao who appeared for the petitioner said that P.P. Rao was appearing for an intervener and he (Justice Raveendran) could not recuse on his plea.

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