Constitution bench to hear quota issue Aug 7


New Delhi : A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court will begin on Aug 7 scrutiny of the legality of a law giving 27 percent reservation for backward class students in centrally-funded higher educational institutions.

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A bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan also said it would hear the central government's July 17 plea for revival of the suspended law on quota for students from Other Backward Classes (OBC) July 31 – the date fixed earlier.

The bench also asked the counsel for various organisations, including those for the law and those against, to file their written arguments by Aug 4, before the constitution bench begins examining its legality as well as of the Constitution (93rd Amendment) Act, passed by parliament in 2005.

The Constitution (93rd Amendment) Act inserted Article 15 (5) in the constitution, which empowers the central and state governments to enact laws providing for reservation in educational institutions, barring those belonging to minorities, for OBC students.

The central government subsequently enacted the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006, providing for 27 percent reservation in centrally-funded educational institutions.

The law, however, was suspended March 29 on a bunch of petitions by those against reservation, including Youth for Equality and advocate Ashok Thakur. The bench had ruled that the legality of the law needed closer scrutiny.

Ever since suspension of the law, the government has been repeatedly attempting to get the stay vacated. The application filed by it July 17 is the third one towards that purpose.