Chennai: The Madras High Court on Monday ruled out that there was no constitutional or legal impediment to extending the benefit of reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in medical and dental seats contributed to the All India Quota (AIQ) by State government-run medical and dental colleges every year, reported The Hindu.
Government of Tamil Nadu and several parties, including AIADMK and the DMK had filed a writ petition seeking 50 per cent reservation for OBCs in 15 per cent of undergraduate and 50 per cent of postgraduate seats under AIQ in government-run colleges.
Hearing the petition, chief justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy rejected the contention of the Medical Council of India (MCI) that AIQ in non-central institutions and was created at the instance of the Supreme Court in 1984, and hence only the latter could order OBC reservation under that quota.
Rejecting the MCI’s contention, the Division Bench said the objective behind the Supreme Court’s 1984 order was that there should be a national pool of medical seats filled purely on the basis of merit, instead of every State admitting students to medical colleges on the basis of domicile.
Moreover, the judges also directed the Centre to constitute a committee to fix the percentage and other terms for OBC reservation from next year.
Not finding any reason for denying reservation for OBCs in non-central institutions alone, the Bench said the issue of merit has now been taken care of with the introduction of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) and the imposition of a stipulation that only those who clear it would be entitled to reservation.
In a letter to DMK Rajya Sabha member P. Wilson on December 18, 2019, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said that state governments would be at liberty to frame special provisions by law to provide reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs with respect to seats contributed to AIQ.
In the 170-page verdict, the Judges pointed out that Tamil Nadu already had a law in force which stated that 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 of 1993 provides for 50 per cent reservation for OBCs, 18 per cent for SCs and 1 per cent for STs.
Nevertheless, the dispute was whether the state law, providing as much as 69 per cent of the overall quantum of reservation, could be applied to seats contributed to the AIQ, especially when the Centre had insisted that overall reservation should not exceed 50 per cent of total seats. Further, the Centre’s inclination to grant reservation for OBCs had not crystalised into a legal right.