The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Quota bar an order, not advice

New Delhi, April 18: The Supreme Court today clarified that its March 29 ruling staying higher education quotas was not “advice” but an “order binding on the government.

“We don’t give advice,” the court said, rebuffing such a suggestion by the Centre in an application seeking to revoke the stay on 27 per cent quotas for other backward classes.

Dealing another blow to the Centre, which is under pressure to end the admission impasse in IITs and IIMs as soon as possible, the court said it would hear arguments on revoking the stay only on April 23.

This is two days after the April 21 deadline the IIMs have announced to release the general category admission list, which the government had told them to put on hold.

IIM directors are expected to meet human resource development ministry officials before April 21 to sort out matters.

Technically, the IIMs can afford to wait two days before releasing the list. April 21 is a Saturday and nothing much is likely to happen between that day and Monday, April 23, as Sunday is a holiday.

“We will wait. There are two more days to go before the 21st and we hope to hear something from the ministry by then. In any case, 21st is a Saturday and 23rd is a Monday…. All the IIMs will discuss and see what can be done,” said Professor Ashish Bhattacharyya, chairman, admissions, IIM Calcutta.

“We will make our position on admissions clear on April 21,” IIM Ahmedabad director Bakul Dholakia said.

Earlier, the two-judge bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and L.S. Panta said it would hear arguments on revoking the stay only after it was convinced the Centre had filed an “application”, not a “review petition”.

Prima facie, the Centre appeared to have filed a review petition against the stay order, not an application, it said.

An “application” is generally moved when implementation of a court order is difficult. It does not challenge the legality of the judgment.

A “review petition”, on the other hand, involves a graver exercise as it challenges the judgment as a whole. It is filed in extraordinary circumstances and is heard in chambers by the judge who passed the order. Hearings are discretionary.

Whether the court at all hears the plea to revoke the stay hinges on solicitor-general G.E. Vahanvati, who was recently roped in to beef up the government’s legal team.

Asked on what grounds the Centre was seeking to revoke the stay, Vahanvati said the right of general category students would not be affected. The government was willing to give an undertaking that seats would be increased to accommodate OBCs, he added.

“What is new in it' We have already dealt with it,” Justice Pasayat said.

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