Apex court to finalise core questions on quota soon


New Delhi : Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati and senior advocate Harish Salve Thursday submitted to the Supreme Court a comprehensive set of 35 questions on the constitutionality of the law for 27 percent reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBC) students in the centrally-funded educational institutions.

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The bench of Justice Arjit Pasayat and Justice L.S. Panta accepted the set of questions, indicating that they would finalise it within a couple of days and decide whether they need to be referred to a larger constitutional bench for their scrutiny.

The bench had reserved its order Wednesday on the issue of referring the matter to a constitution bench.

Vahanvati and Salve together made the compilation after receiving questions from various contesting parties including the centre and the anti and pro quota lobbyists.

The two legal experts divided 35 questions under seven headings for the perusal of the court and most of the questions were framed keeping in mind the apex court's Oct 1993 ruling on the issue of implementation of Mandal Commission's recommendation, also known as the Indra Sawhney case judgement.

On receiving the questions running in eight pages, the bench remarked in lighter vein, "We now have to do a précis-writing."

Some of the important questions formulated by the centre included those on "the true scope and ambit of the amended Articles 15 (4) and 15 (5) of the constitution," which empowers the government to make special provisions for OBC category of students in form of reservation in educational institutions.

The query by the centre wanted to find out if the yardsticks for the interpretation of the Articles 15 (4) and 15 (5), related to reservation in educational institutions for the OBC, would be the same as those for the Article 16 (4) of the constitution, which provides for reservation in state jobs.

Yet another question by the union government wanted the bench to decide if the concept of creamy layer, formulated first by the nine-judge constitution bench in the Indra Sawhney case would also hit the provision for the reservation to OBC students in educational institutions.

The questions submitted by senior counsel Harish Salve pertained to the basis for identifying the members of the OBC category and the modalities for the implementation of the reservation policy for them.

The questions submitted by him wanted the court to examine if the constitution (93rd Amendment) Act, empowering the government to make special provisions in the form of reservations for OBC students in educational institutions violated the basic structure of the constitution.

His questions also wanted the court to determine if the 93rd amendment of the constitution has conferred an unbridled power on the state to make special provisions for socially and educationally backward classes and if so, whether it is not wholly destructive of the right to equality of citizens and thereby violated the basic structure of the constitution.