The Court today observed that there was no legal or Constitutional impediment to extending OBC reservations to the State-surrendered seats, although the Centre is yet to enact a law on the same.
The Madras High Court today directed the formation of a committee to decide on the manner in which reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in State-surrendered medical seats for the All India Quota (AIQ) in non-Central Medical Colleges in Tamil Nadu can be implemented.
The Bench of Chief Justice AP Sahi and Justice Senthil Ramamoorthy passed the verdict on a batch of pleas filed by a number of petitioners, including various political parties in Tamil Nadu as well as the Tamil Nadu Government.
The Court today observed that there was no Constitutional and legal impediment to the extension of reservation for OBCs in the State-surrendered seats, subject to further directions by the Supreme Court.
The Court went on to observe that while reservation cannot be claimed as a fundamental right, there was policy already in place for OBC reservation, which is supported by law. In respect of the same, the Court noted that the Tamil Nadu Government has a law for 50% OBC reservation.
Further, the Court rejected arguments that the Supreme Court, in earlier cases, had “sealed the fate” of OBC reservation, adding that the top Court had not prevented any future law on reservations.
“… to accept that all the decisions from Pradeep Jain onwards had sealed the fate of any future arrangements relating to Other Backward Class reservations being made will not be applicable in the present circumstances when post Constitutional 103 rd Amendment laws framed by the Central Government have opened up reservation for other backward categories to the extent of 27% in Central Government Institutions against All India Quota seats, and has also proposed to do it in the present context with a cap of 50% without disturbing the other reservations. The Apex Court had nowhere prevented the applicability of any future laws of reservations…”
However, since the Centre is yet to enact any law on this particular aspect, the Court refrained from issuing any positive, straight mandamus. It was noted that the Centre had only proposed to bring about a policy to allow OBC reservation for State surrendered seats with some riders.
Therefore, the Court opined that the question of implementing OBC reservation would require the participation of the Central Government, the State Government, the Medical Council of India and the Dental Council of India.
“…. a policy relating to extending the benefit of reservations vis-a-vis qualifying marks and admissions has to be reviewed jointly by the Central Government as well as by the Medical Council of India. At the same time, once the constitutional mandate enabling the State to frame a law has been crystallised by the framing of a particular law by the State Government, then its applicability vis-a-vis All India quota to the extent the percentage is permissible cannot be ignored”, the Court observed.
The matter has to be resolved between Centre and State with participation of MCI and the DCI, the Court said. To this end, the issue should be referred to a committee for implementation, it was held.
Therefore, it has issued the following directions:
- The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is to convene a meeting with the Health Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Health Department and the Secretaries of the MCI and DCI to decide on how OBC will be implemented in the State-surrendered AIQ with effect from nextacademic year. This, the Court observed, is to ensure that the process does not disturb the entire selections that have already been set into motion and are likely to be concluded under the existing scheme.
- The decision on this issue should preferably be made within three months’ time.
- Decisions to be taken with respect to OBC Reservations will not apply to present academic year, only for the future.
In the course of the Judgment, the Bench also addressed arguments concerning whether reservation would affect merit in seat allotment, observing,
“The minimum merit and the preparation of the list of candidates entitled to admission having been taken care of by the NEET examinations, it cannot be said that merit would be compromised if reservation is introduced in favour of Other Backward Categories in the All India quota, who have qualified in the NEET examinations, but, that is an issue for which a decision has to be taken upon a joint deliberation and consideration of all such factors that may be necessary so as to implement the policy by any appropriate fusion and the protection of interests and at the same time maintaining a balance of the representations of each category of candidates in their respective proportions.”
Read the Judgment:
Read the arguments made before the Court in its marathon hearing on July 17:
Among the various counsel who appeared for the petitioner-side were Senior Advocate P Wilson, assisted by Advocate Richard Wilson (for the DMK), Senior Advocate AR L Sundaresan (for the AIADMK), Senior Advocate A Thiagarajan, Advocate K Balu (for Anbumani Ramadoss, PMK Party) and Advocates Stalin Abhimanyu, P Dinesh Kumar and others.
Advocate General Vijay Narayan appeared for the Tamil Nadu Government, which has filed its own writ petition on the issue. Government Pleader N Malaappeared for the Puducherry Government.
Advocate VP Raman appeared for the MCI and ASGI R Sankaranarayananappeared for the Central Government