In a significant development, the Supreme Court Friday stayed the Kerala High Court proceedings on a plea challenging the Union government's decision to grant 10% reservation in jobs and admissions to candidates of the economically weaker sections (EWS).
A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli also issued notice on the plea filed by the Union government seeking transfer of the case from the high court to the apex court which had earlier referred to the similar case for adjudication to a five-judge Constitution bench.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union government, sought a stay on the proceedings before the high court and a notice to Nujaim PK who had filed the PIL.
The plea said: "The present transfer petition is being filed...under Article '139A (1) of the Constitution, seeking the transfer of Civil Writ Petition No.-23872 of 2020 titled as Nujaim P.K. Vs. Union of India 85. Ors, pending before the High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam, to this Court...
"Writ Petition involves an identical question of law to one pending before this Court, whether the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019 violates the basic structure of the Constitution of India and is against the basic principle of the constitution".
The transfer of the aforesaid writ petition would enable all these cases to be clubbed and heard together and avoid possibility of inconsistent orders being passed by different courts, it said.
The transfer of petition is necessary because a similar plea and other connected petitions regarding the validity of the Act are pending before this court, it added. The top court had earlier referred to the 5-judge Constitution a batch of pleas and transfer petitions challenging the Union government's decision to grant 10% reservation in jobs and education to economically weaker sections and the Act. The court had refused to stay the Union government's decision.
Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha cleared the bill on January 8 and 9, 2019 respectively, and was signed by President Ram Nath Kovind.
The quota will be over and above the existing 50% reservation to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. Recently, the Madras High Court made a crucial observation that the Union government's notification on grant of 10% quota to the EWS in all-India quota (AIQ) seats of medical colleges would require approval of the top court.
A separate bench of the top court later in the day set aside a Madras High Court direction that the Union government must seek the top court's approval before implementing 10% reservation for the economically weaker sections (EWS) in all-India quota (AIQ) seats of medical colleges.
The apex court, however, made clear that it is not quashing the entire high court order passed on August 25 or stating any opinion on its merit but just setting aside the observations made with regard to top court's approval on EWS quota.