Read order: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam vs. Mr.Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare & Ors

LE Correspondent

Chennai, August 26, 2021: Noticing that the All India Quota (AIQ) scheme has been introduced for entrance to under-graduate and post-graduate degrees and diploma courses in government-run or aided medical and dental colleges across the country pursuant to orders of the Supreme Court, the Madras High Court has ruled that horizontal reservation provided in Notification of July 29, 2021 issued by the Union for persons with disabilities, appears to be in accordance with law.

However, additional reservation provided for economically weaker sections (EWS) in the said notification cannot be permitted, except with the approval of the Supreme Court in such regard, added the High Court. 

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu observed that the provision for additional reservation, over and above 50 per cent, permitted by the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019 appears to fall foul of the dictum in Indra Sawhney case, and further reservation in the AIQ seats for admission to the under-graduate, post-graduate and diploma medical and dental courses in the State should be only upon the approval of the Supreme Court.

 “The entire concept of reservation that appears to have been addressed by the Constituent Assembly while framing the Constitution may have been turned on its head by repeated amendments and the veritable reinvigoration of the caste system – and even extending it to denominations where it does not exist – instead of empowering citizens so that merit may ultimately decide matters as to admission, appointment and promotion,” observed the Bench. 

“Rather than the caste system being wiped away, the present trend seems to perpetuate it by endlessly extending a measure that was to remain only for a short duration to cover the infancy and, possibly, the adolescence of the Republic. Though the life of a nation state may not be relatable to the human process of aging, but at over-70, it ought, probably, to be more mature,” opined the High Court.  

The observation came pursuant to a petition filed by political parties complaining of deliberate and willful violation of the order directing implementation of reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the AIQ of the seats surrendered by the State for admission to the under-graduate, post-graduate and diploma medical and dental courses in the State. 

The petitioner asserted that whether or not certain seats in government medical colleges or government aided or approved medical colleges have been surrendered by the State to be included as part of the AIQ seats, since the admission was sought and was to be granted in institutions in this State, the relevant institutions would be governed by the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of Appointments or Posts in the Services under the State) Act, 1993.

Chief Justice Banerjee stated that the State reservation rules would not apply to AIQ seats for admission to the under-graduate, postgraduate and diploma medical and dental courses in the State since that would, ipso facto, take the seats away from the AIQ pool back to the State as only backward classes as notified by the State in its official gazette would be entitled to the reservation and not candidates not resident in the State.

Since the committee required to be constituted by the order dated July 27, 2020 was constituted and such committee gave its opinion and the Union, or its appropriate agencies, have acted on the basis thereof, albeit not exactly in terms of the recommendations, no case of willful or deliberate violation of the said order can be said to have been made out, added the Bench. 

However, the Division Bench expressed its reservations regarding the validity of extending an additional ten percent reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in AIQ seats and thus observed that the same is not permissible without the Supreme Court’s approval.

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