Supreme Court opposes keeping reserved seats vacant

September 29th, 2008 - 11:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday disapproved the government’s plan to keep vacant for at least three years the seats reserved for backward category students in the state-run higher educational institutions if all such quota seats are not filled. A five-judge constitutional bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, frowned upon the government idea and said: “Don’t allow the seats to be vacant.”

The bench, which also included Justices Arijit Pasayat, C.K. Thakkar, R.V. Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari, was hearing a lawsuit seeking clarification on the apex court’s April 10 verdict upholding the law for 27 percent quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in state-run institutions of higher learning.

The plea sought to know from the apex court whether the seats, reserved for OBC students but left vacant owing to the their paucity, could be allocated to general category students.

It also sought to know whether the cut-off marks for the admission to the OBC students could be relaxed beyond 10 percent of the cut-off marks fixed for general category students.

The bunch of petitions were from P.V. Indiresan and other academicians in three high courts of Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata, later transferred to the Supreme Court on a petition by the government.

Submitting the government’s view, Solicitor General Goolam E. Vahanvati said the Jawaharlal Nehru University had increased its seats by 27 percent for the backward category students in one go despite the government’s plan to increase these in various institutions in a staggered manner over three years at the rate of nine percent a year.

Vahanvati said as the JNU had increased its seats and infrastructure in one go and several seats were vacant for the want of backward category students, the government allowed diversion of vacant seats to general category students.

But he wanted other institutions, increasing their seats in a staggered manner, to leave them vacant at least for three years.

The bench rejected the proposal, saying it would be a waste of national resources. It slated the matter for further hearing on Non 18.

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