'OBC quota in educational institutions justified'

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New Delhi, Sep 25: Asserting that unequals will have to be treated unequally to make them equal, the Centre today defended its notification providing 27 per cent reservation to OBC in admissions to centrally-run educational institutions of higher studies, before the Supreme Court.

Contending that the caste based reservation was fully justified, Solicitor General G E Vahanvati told the five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, that compensatory and protective discrimination in favour of OBCs was a necessity as for centuries, people belonging to low caste had been forced to do menial work and age-old oppression and exploitation had made them socially, educationally and economically backward.

Refuting the allegations of anti-reservationists, Mr Vahanvati contended that the Government policy was not based on vote bank politics and it has done its homework properly before introducing the impugned notification.

He also told the court that under 'Sarva Siksha Abhiyan', launched by the Centre, the country hoped to achieve Universal literacy by 2010.

Mr Vahanvati also pointed out that Article 29(2) of the Constitution of India can not be applied in the present case.

The court inquired from the Government that ''Caste system is prevalent only among Hindus. What about other communities and minorities like Christians, Muslims, Sikhs etc where there is no caste system?'' Mr Vahanvati responded by saying that the Government has already accepted the Mandal Commission Report in Mandal Commission case, which was decided by nine-judge bench of this court and was based on the list of OBCs provided by the state government.

The Solicitor General also pointed out that he would address the court on 11 points and Senior Counsel K Parasaran would address this court on the issue of creamy layer along with additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium.

He added that claim of several castes for inclusion among OBC has been rejected by the Government, for instance, the plea of Jats in Haryana for OBC status was turned down while the same plea by Rajputs in Rajasthan was also rejected. Similar contention of Kayasthas for OBC status in Uttar Pradesh was also declined.

The Solicitor General added Article 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution were not an exception to Article 15(1) and 16(1) of the same.

He also refuted the allegations of anti-reservationists that the Government has overlooked the financial implications of its quota policy.

Counsel for anti-reservationists who concluded their argument last week had alleged that the implementation of the policy would entail an additional expenditure of Rs 17000 crore on the Government. They added that the Caste-based reservation policy would divide the country along caste lines and such policy would deprive minorities of the benefit of reservation. They had also pleaded for exclusion of creamy layer from the benefits of the quota policy of the Government.

A two-judge bench of this court on March 29 this year had stayed the operation of the impugned notification for one year and had said 1931 Caste Census cannot be treated as authentic and identification of the beneficiaries of the policy must be done first.

Other judges comprising the bench were Justices Arijit Pasayat, C K Thakker, R V Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari. The Government would continue its arguments tomorrow. The Government has also taken the stand that any tool of social engineering could not have a time frame.

It was in response to the contention of the petitioners that reservations must end within a definite period of time as they could not continue indefinitely.


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