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Law on admissions referred to larger Bench

By J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI, AUG. 19. The Supreme Court today referred to a larger Bench a batch of petitions questioning the constitutional validity of a piece of legislation enacted by the Karnataka Government fixing 75-25 sharing of seats between the Government and the managements of private, aided, and non-minority professional institutions.

By an interim order, a Bench of Justice Ruma Pal and Justice C. K. Thakker, ordered that status quo as of today be maintained with regard to admissions already made in professional colleges.

Appearing for the Karnataka Private Medical Colleges Association, the Karnataka Unaided Private Engineering Colleges Association and two others, senior counsel Harish Salve said the law stipulating 75 per cent quota for the State was violative of the constitutional rights of a private unaided and professional college as an 11-judge Bench of the apex court in the T.M.A. Pai case had ruled that restricting the management quota even to 50 per cent was unreasonable.

Disrespect

He said that pursuant to the interim order passed by the apex court on July 15 fixing the quota at

50:50, the managements had filled 50 per cent of their seats as against the stipulated 25 per cent under the new law. He said the enactment of a law after the apex court had passed an interim order amounted to disrespect to the court. Senior counsel for Karnataka T.R. Andhyarujina said the enactment was not disrespect to the court as it was passed due to compelling reasons. He said that for 2003-04, the 75:25 formula was followed and on this basis the quota for 2004-05 had been fixed. He said there would be chaos in the State if the quota were to be disturbed as the Government had selected candidates for its 75 per cent quota seats through the Common Entrance Test and subsequent counselling. He said status quo should be maintained.

Provide details

The Bench asked the Government and the petitioners to file affidavits indicating the actual number of seats filled in each category by Friday next and posted the matter for further hearing on August 27. As for the fee, the Bench asked the parties to move the High Court, which was asked to dispose of the matter expeditiously. The petitioners contended that the Karnataka Selection of Candidates for Admission to Medical, Dental and Engineering Courses (Special Provisions) Act, 2004, directly usurped the judicial power and sat in appeal over the orders passed by the apex court and amounted to reversing these orders.

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