Two of the five judges of the Supreme Court, who delivered the judgment on reservation for Other Backward Classes, have directed that if eligible OBC candidates are not available, the vacant seats shall be filled in by general category candidates.
Justice Arijit Prasayat, writing the judgment for himself and for Justice C K Thakker on April 10, had ruled that if 27 per cent seats earmarked for OBC candidates in admission to centrally-run educational institutions of higher learning are not available, then the seats remaining vacant shall go to general category candidates.
The two judges also directed the Centre and the state to obtain more authentic caste-based data of the population of the country to determine the percentage of OBCs in the total population.
The government may find it difficult to implement its decision to provide 27.5 per cent reservation to OBCs in educational institutions like IITs, IIMs and post graduate courses of AIIMS because if the creamy layer is excluded from the benefits of the reservation then caste covered under the category of OBCs may not be able to produce candidates who fulfilled minimum eligibility conditions for admission to these elite institutions in view of their poor educational background.
Another judge on the bench, Justice Dalveer Bhandari, has rightly directed the government to first provide primary education to socially and educationally backward sections of the society.
A leading counsel, during the argument in favour of the government's reservation policy, had contended before the court that if creamy layer is left out, the seats reserved for OBCs would remain vacant for want of eligible candidates.
More than 3,300 castes are included in the category of OBCs. As per the office memorandum of the Union government dated September 8, 1993, anybody having an annual income of Rs 2.5 lakh or more shall be considered creamy layer and shall not be entitled to the benefits of 27 per cent quota for OBCs.