Reservation to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in postgraduate medical courses being a policy matter, the court cannot give a direction compelling a State government to provide a quota, the Supreme Court held on Wednesday. “The consistent view of this court is that Article 15 (4) of the Constitution [providing reservation] is only an enabling provision and it is for the respective States to either enact legislation or issue an executive instruction providing reservation in postgraduate courses,” a Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices P. Sathasivam and J.M. Panchal said.
“After all, medical education is an important issue which should not have any mandatory condition of reservation which may give rise to a situation against the public interest if so interpreted by the State government, as the State government is in a better position to determine the situation and requirement of that particular State, as mandated by the Constitution.”
Writing the judgment, Justice Sathasivam said: “As the State government is competent to make reservation to a particular class or category, until it is decided by the State, as being a policy matter, there cannot be any direction to provide reservation at the postgraduate level.”
The Bench said the PG degree/diploma in medical education was governed by the Medical Council of India and even the MCI had not strictly adhered to the reservation rules in admissions for the SCs/STs at the PG level. “In our view, every State can take its own decision with regard to reservation depending on various factors.”
In the instant case, Dr. Gulshan Prakash and others questioned the prospectus issued by the Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, Haryana, for 2007-2008 without providing reservation for the SCs/STs in PG courses. The Punjab and Haryana High Court rejected the petition and they filed the present appeal. A writ petition was also filed directly in the Supreme Court questioning the 2009-2010 prospectus.
Rejecting the petitions, the Bench said that since Article 15 (4) of was an enabling provision, the State government was the best judge to grant reservation for the SCs/STs/Backward Classes at the PG level. “The decision of the State of Haryana not to make any provision for reservation at the PG level suffers from no infirmity.” .
The Haryana government granting reservation for the SC/ST/BC categories at the undergraduate level, “does not mean that it is bound to grant reservation at the PG level also. The State has conveyed its decision that it is not in favour of reservation for the SC/ST/BC at the PG level. In such circumstances, the court cannot issue any mandamus to the government.”
However, Haryana would be free to reconsider its earlier decision, if it so desired and circumstances warranted such a course in the future.