Supreme Court stays Maharashtra’s EWS quota

Admissions for PG medical courses began before notification of amendment, says Bench.

Updated - December 03, 2021 08:42 am IST

Published - May 30, 2019 06:35 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

A view of the Supreme Court in New Delhi.

A view of the Supreme Court in New Delhi.

The Supreme Court on Thursday passed an interim direction that the 10% reservation for the economically weaker sections introduced by Maharashtra for postgraduate medical courses in the State through notifications dated February 12 and March 7, will not apply for this academic year, since the admission process had already started in November 2018.

A Vacation Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, said, “We are of the view, at this stage, that though the State may act under the enabling provision contained in Article 16(6) of the Constitution, as introduced by the 103rd Constitutional amendment, unless additional seats are sanctioned by the Medical Council of India, the existing seats cannot be subjected to the provisions of the aforesaid Constitutional amendment by issuing appropriate notifications, as has been done in this case.”

 

The court said it is open for the Medical Council of India “to sanction additional seats, if deemed fit”.

The two had extended the benefit of reservation to the extent of 10% to economically weaker sections in postgraduate medical courses.

By the 103rd Constitutional amendment, Article 16 (6) was inserted, allowing States to make “any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clause (4), in addition to the existing reservation and subject to a maximum of ten per cent of the posts in each category.”

The court’s interim direction came on a plea filed by a student Rajat Rajendra Agrawal from general category on whether the Constitutional amendment would apply to the ongoing admission process, which had commenced in November 2018, that is, well before the coming into force of the Constitutional amendment (January, 2019) and the notifications of February and March, 2019.

“Not only we are reminded of the time-tested principle of law that the modalities of selection cannot be changed after initiation of the process, in a similar matter involving reservation of 16% seats for socially and educationally backward classes including the Maratha community in the educational institutions in the State of Maharashtra in terms of provisions of the Maharashtra State Reservation (of Seats for Admission in Educational Institutions in the State and for Appointments in the Public Services and Posts under the State) for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018, the Bombay High Court had taken the view that the said Act, having come into force with effect from 30.11.2018, could not be made applicable to the very same admission process as the same had been initiated earlier i.e. on 2.11.2018,” the court observed.

The special leave petition against the said order of the Bombay High Court has since been dismissed by this Court.

Based on this, the Court took the tentative view on Thursday that the notification of the State of Maharashtra on March 7, insofar as the admission to postgraduate medical courses is concerned, would have no application to the ongoing process of selection, so as to enable the representatives of the economically weaker sections to avail of the benefit of reservation for admission to postgraduate medical courses.

The interim direction would continue till a final decision is arrived at by the Court in the proceedings.

“We have kept in mind the need to balance the competing claims which balance could be upset by claim of equity, if the reserved category candidates are allowed to undergo the medical course(s) and in the event their admission is found to be untenable at a later stage of the present proceedings,” the Bench reasoned.

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