OBC cut-off mark issue referred to CJI

OBC cut-off mark issue referred to CJI

Move follows demand for larger bench on the matter

The move follows the contention of an advocate that the case should be heard by a Constitution Bench consisting a particular judge among others.

A Bench of Justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik, who heard the arguments considerably for several days, took umbrage to the observations by senior advocate P P Rao, appearing for anti-quota group, and decided to discontinue the hearing and send the matter to CJI S H Kapadia.

“It is most inappropriate. There is a decision of the Supreme Court and not by a judge. It is not done in the history of the Supreme Court. Our judgment is open to the interpretation by any judge and not by the same judge who delivered the verdict,” the court said.

Rao submitted that only a Constitution Bench, comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Raveendran can decide the application seeking clarification with regard to criteria for the cut-off marks for OBC students whether it should be only 10 per cent less than the marks on which admission is closed for general category candidates or it should not be less than 10 per cent of the eligibility criteria.

The counsel said since Justice Bhandari was one of the judges in the five-judge Constitution Bench which had upheld the law for 27 per cent quota for OBC students with some conditions on April 10, 2008, and used “cut-off” word in the verdict delivered by him, he should necessarily be included in the larger Constitution Bench, hearing the clarification issue.

As other two judges, Justices Arijit Pasayat and C K Thakker, who had also used the term “cut-off” have since retired, Justice Bhandari could give clarification with regard to meaning of the word, Rao said.

The counsel also maintained that Justice Raveendran should also be included in such Constitution Bench.

Both Justice Raveendran and Justice Bhandari were part of the five-judge Constitution Bench which had upheld the validity of the law granting 27 per cent OBC quota. Others in the Bench, the then Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and Justices Pasayat and Thakker have since retired.

But the contention of Rao did not seem to have gone down well with Justice Raveendran. Lawyers appearing for OBC candidates also opposed it. “I am on the verge of retirement. I don’t want to get involved in any controversy. You (Rao) have been here ever since even I did not start my practice,” Justice Raveendran said.

“These are the issues where sentiments of large number of students are involved. I don’t find upto now that the matter requires consideration by a larger Bench,” Justice Raveendran added and referred the matter to CJI for constituting appropriate Bench.

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