Hope Governor will decide on 7.5% horizontal quota soon: HC

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday hoped that Governor Banwarilal Purohit would take a decision at the earliest with regard to the Bill on implementing 7.5% horizontal reservation for government school students who have cleared the National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for medical admissions.

During the hearing of a batch of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petitions filed in this regard, a Division Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and B. Pugalendhi was informed by Advocate General Vijay Narayan that the Governor would need three to four weeks time to take a decision on the Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Courses in Medicine, Dentistry, Indian Medicine and Homeopathy on Preferential Basis to Students of Government Schools Bill, 2020.

When the judges asked as to why there was a delay in taking a decision, the Advocate General, referring to Article 361 of the Constitution (Protection of President and Governors), submitted that protection has been given to the constitutional authority. Moreover, the Governor was not answerable to any court for the exercise of the powers and duties, he added.

“No doubt Article 361 of the Constitution of India gives protection to the constitutional authority. However, in the given circumstances, a decision has to be taken taking into consideration the future of government school students, who are invariably from marginalised and poor sections, as soon as possible as provided under Article 200 of the Constitution of India [Assent to Bills],” the judges said.

‘As soon as possible’

Further, the judges observed that, “A perusal of Article 200 [Assent to Bills] would reveal that the constitutional authority has to take a decision if a Bill is presented for assent as soon as possible. The protection has been given by the framers of the Constitution with the hope and trust in the appointees that they would perform their constitutional functioning promptly and there would not be any situation wherein they would be called to give an explanation”. The court observed that the Bill was passed by the Tamil Nadu State Legislative Assembly unanimously on September 15 and was sent for assent to the Governor on the very same day. However, the Bill was pending for almost two months without any decision being taken.

Under these circumstances, the NEET results were also published on October 16. Though it is claimed that around 400 to 500 students from government schools qualified in the examination, the reality is that only a single digit number of students will be qualified for admission to the medical courses as per the committee report. Moreover, from the introduction of the NEET in 2017, only 14 students from government schools have gotten admission to the medical courses, the judges added.

“When the situation changes and the present kind of situation arises, a different approach has to be taken by the courts in the interest of the public. It is a well settled law that an ‘extraordinary situation requires extraordinary remedies’. When public interest requires, this court has to do its constitutional duties and address the situation. However, this court is of the opinion that such a situation would not arise to pass any order in this matter,” the judges said.

The court was hearing a batch of PILs that sought a direction to the State to implement horizontal reservation for government school students as recommended by the Commission headed by retired High Court Judge P. Kalaiyarasan.

The case was adjourned till November 2.

Earlier, the State government informed the court that until a decision was taken by the Governor on the Bill on implementing 7.5% horizontal reservation for government school students, the prospectus for admissions would not be issued.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 1:32:51 PM |

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