New Delhi, Sep 20: The Central Government will respond on September 25 to the petition challenging the notification providing 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in admission to centrally run educational institutions for higher studies like IITs, IIMs and post-graduate medical science courses.
The month-long marathon arguments by the petitioners challenging the caste based reservation policy of the government which took 14 seatings by the Supreme Court were concluded today.
The main thrust of the argument of the petitioners was that such a reservation policy will divide the country on caste lines, and the efficiency of the administration will also be adversely affected.
The petitioners also contended that the exclusion of the creamy layer was not possible so far, as caste remains the basis of reservation and the Constitution does not speak of caste but only speaks of upliftment of socially, educationally and economically backward classes of the Indian society.
According to the petitioners, reservation should be provided on the basis of economic backwardness and not on the basis of caste.
''It is strange that through the reservation policy, we are perpetuating casteism while the Constitution says that the state shall not discriminate on the basis of caste, creed or religion.'' The petitioners also contended that caste based reservations deprives other communities like the minorities of the benefits of the quota policy which is confined only to the Hindus.
The petitioners have also challenged the quota policy on the grounds that it violates the secular character of Indian society by not including minorities within the ambit of the quota policy.
Battery of senior lawyers namely S S Nariman, Harish Salve, K K Venugopal, P P Rao and Rajiv Dhawan addressed the court on the behalf of the petitioners.
Solicitor General G E Vahanvati and Sr Counsel K Parasaran will start giving reply on behalf of the Central Government and political parties like RJD and DMK which are supporting the policy of the government.
The Centre has been defending its policy on the grounds that people have been oppressed for centuries in the name of caste and have therefore become socially, educationally and economically backward. Hence, the caste based reservation to the people oppressed for centuries is like a compensation for the historical wrong committed by the country and is in conformity with the policy of social justice being followed by the Indian Government.
The Centre is also of the view that Casteism is a reality in India and therefore, there is nothing wrong in providing reservation to OBCs by the government.
The other objection of the petitioners to the policy is that it is based on 1931 caste based census which has become irrelevant and no fresh census to identify the beneficiaries of such policy has been conducted by the government. Hence, without identifying the beneficiaries, reservation policy has no meaning.
There is no criteria for determining backwardness as the policy is based on caste and not on class.
Mr P P Rao had gone to the extent of saying that casteism has destroyed Hindu society as the loyalties of the people are restricted to their respective caste and not to the society as a whole.
The five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices Arijit Pasayat, C K Thakkar, R V Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari shall resume the hearing on September 25.