Kolkata/New Delhi: The Calcutta high court on Wednesday stayed till 9 June a memo (or order) issued by the Union ministry of human resource development, or HRD, on 27% reservation for other backward classes, or OBCs, in the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, paving the way for more litigation and confusion over the already contentious issue.
The immediate casualty of this could be admissions to the postgraduate diploma in business management programme at all the IIMs.
The court’s stay came in response to a petition filed by an engineering student, Sayan Guha, who had appeared for the Common Admission Test to the IIMs for admission to the programme that begins in mid-2008. In his petition, Guha had argued that graduates could not be considered backward in keeping with the Supreme Court’s ruling on the issue of reservations on 10 April. That would mean the proposed 27% reservation is not applicable to postgraduate programmes, something the HRD ministry has consistently denied.
After the court order, HRD minister Arjun Singh said there was no confusion about reservation in postgraduate courses.
Lawyers in New Delhi, however, said the judgement would impact all postgraduate courses. It would cover all institutions “whether they are inside West Bengal or outside”, said P.P. Rao, senior lawyer in the Supreme Court, who had argued against the 27% reservation on behalf of Youth For Equality, a forum of doctors of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, or AIIMS, in a recent case where the court gave the go-ahead to reservations.
Singh said that the stay could “delay the quota implementation in IIM, Calcutta, but it would not affect the process in other institutions.”
The IIMs, meanwhile, are not clear on their course of action. IIM, Ahmedabad, has finished provisionally admitting OBC applicants, and Samir Barua, director of the school said “...we will take legal advise about the impact of this stay order from Calcutta high court. Till then, it is really difficult to say what stand we would take.” Guha’s lawyer Nilava Bandyopadhyay said the court had sent notices to the HRD ministry and IIM, Calcutta, a week ago but neither had representatives in court on Wednesday.
The order might stall ongoing interviews of OBC candidates at IIM, Calcutta, according to Asish Bhattacharyya, who is member of the institute’s board of governors. “We can’t say what we are going to do until we have received a copy of the order, but we are certainly not going to do anything that the court doesn’t want us to do. So, we might have to stop interviewing OBC candidates ...,” he said.
Last week, the Delhi high court issued a notice to the Centre asking it to reply to a petition filed by an association of IIM alumni challenging reservation for OBCs in postgraduate courses.
Sunil Raghu in Ahmedabad and?PTI?contributed?to?the?story.