The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Beef-up delays quota petition
- Cautious Centre ropes in senior counsel

New Delhi, April 13: Once bitten, the Centre is taking no chances on the legal initiative to put the IIM quotas back on track.

But the extraordinary precautions are consuming time and prolonging the agony of hundreds of IIM aspirants who are keeping a wary eye on the admission calendar of other business schools.

The government today decided to shore up its legal team by roping in solicitor-general G.E. Vahanvati before moving an application for revocation or modification of the Supreme Court stay on the introduction of the OBC quota this year.

Pending a court clarification, the Centre had frozen the admission process in the IIMs, prompting many candidates to keep other options open if the uncertainty drags on.

Sources said the human resource development ministry has decided to involve Vahanvati along with additional solicitor-general Gopal Subramaniam who had been arguing the case for the government till now.

An application was expected to be filed in the Supreme Court latest by this afternoon, the sources said. This morning, Subramaniam had mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan that the government would soon file an application.

But ministry officials are believed to have held parleys with the lawyers, including Vahanvati, till late this evening.

Over the last few days, drafts have been flying back and forth, reflecting the gravity and trepidation with which the Centre is approaching the issue after the punishment it took in the first round.

The extreme caution is the reason the government has not filed a plea , though a week has lapsed since UPA allies and the Left endorsed a decision to approach the court.

As the Supreme Court registry is closed tomorrow, the earliest the court can be moved now is Monday.

However, a curious element was added today with two organisations the Akhil Bhartiya Gurjar Parishad and the All India Yadav Mahasabha filing petitions seeking implementation of the quota.

The two organisations mentioned the issue before start of proceedings this morning but the court did not find any urgency in it. Subramaniam was also present and he told the court that the Centre, too, would file an application. Usually, such a matter is mentioned only after filing it.

As the court had said the stay would apply only to the OBC quota it specifically mentioned that the SC/ST seats would not be affected students in the general category can file cases against the government for freezing the result.

The quota spearhead, Arjun Singh, met the President this evening. The official agenda was a committee on Visva-Bharati but sources said the quota could have been discussed. The President had signed the quota bill and he could have asked the minister about the legal course of action, they said .

A section in the government has been suggesting exclusion of the creamy layer (the well-off) from the OBC reservation as a way out of the legal muddle.

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