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In a reprieve for the Gujarat government, the Supreme Court Friday accepted its request for not cancelling the admissions already granted to students in engineering colleges in accordance with the controversial ordinance prescribing 10 per cent quota for the economically backward among the unreserved category, including the agitating Patidars.
A bench, led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur, also took note of an undertaking by the state government that it has decided not to provide quota benefits in medical admissions as well as services. “We have decided not to extend any benefit in medical (admissions) and in services. We also informed the High Court about this before the judgment was passed, quashing the ordinance. But admissions in engineering colleges were over in July and we request you that those admissions be not disturbed because that would not serve any purpose,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and state’s Advocate General Kamal Trivedi submitted.
The bench acceded to the state government’s request and said that admissions already granted in educational institutions shall not be disturbed. “Since the High Court has quashed the notification, we make it clear that no further action would be taken towards implementation of the said notification, qua education and services,” it further clarified.
The court also formally admitted the appeal filed by the Gujarat government against the August 4 order of the High Court, quashing the May 1 ordinance, and said that it would consider referring the matter to a five-judge Constitution Bench.
In its special leave petition, the BJP government contended that the impugned ordinance was not intended to provide reservation beyond the 50 per cent ceiling set by the apex court. It maintained that the decision was not aimed at providing reservation to any specific community, but it had sought to create a reasonable classification within criteria laid down by the SC. While quashing the ordinance on August 4, the High Court had stayed the operation of its order by two weeks on the state government’s request to enable it to file an appeal in the apex court.
Terming the ordinance issued on May 1 as “inappropriate and unconstitutional”, the High Court had rejected the state government’s argument that it is a classification under the general category and not the reserved category, and held that it will breach the 50 per cent quota cap set up by the SC. It said that the ordinance promulgated by the state government was against the spirit of the Constitution which allowed quotas for the socially backward and Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
Stung by the quota agitation by the Patidar community, the then Anandiben Patel government had on May 1 issued the Gujarat Unreserved Economically Weaker Sections (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointments and Posts in Services under the State) Ordinance, 2016. Social worker Jayantbhai Manani and others had challenged the move, contending any special provision providing quotas based on economic criteria was not tenable under the law.