DMK, Tamil Nadu Government roles in the Supreme Court verdict on OBC quota in AIQ seats

DMK Rajya Sabha MP P. Wilson. File

Tamil Nadu’s ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the State government played the role of a driving force in the long road which culminated in the Supreme Court’s validation of OBC quota for NEET All India Quota (AIQ) seats in medical admissions on Thursday.

Appearing before a Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, senior advocate P. Wilson, who appeared for the DMK, said the court's judgment would go a long way in the fight for social equality.

The narrative which led to the prolonged legal battle began with the enactment of the Constitution (Ninety-Third Amendment) Act of 2005 which inserted clause (5) to Article 15 to empower the State to make special provisions (including reservation) for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes (or the OBCs) relating to their admission in educational institutions.

The Supreme Court followed this up by holding that reservation was permissible in the AIQ seats for SC/ST categories.

The Parliament then passed the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admissions) Act of 2006 to provide reservation for students belonging to the SCs, STs and OBCs in central educational institutions. However, reservation for OBCs was not extended to State-contributed seats for the AIQ in State-run institutions.

But Tamil Nadu went ahead to grant 50% reservation to the OBCs in State-run medical institutions under 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. Thus, the State quota seats were being filled according to the provisions of the Act of 1993.

A writ petition was instituted before the Supreme Court by the DMK, represented by Mr. Wilson, seeking a mandamus to provide OBC reservation in the AIQ. But the party was asked to take its case to the Madras High Court in June 2020.

In the High Court, the DMK argued that AIQ seats available in State-run medical and dental institutions in Tamil Nadu ought to follow the reservation policy as applicable under the Act of 1993.

However, the Madras High Court deferred the case, saying it had to be heard by the Supreme Court where a similar issue was pending. Back in the Supreme Court, on July 13, 2020, the petitions were disposed on the ground that the issue raised in the High Court was different from the one pending with the top court.

Finally, the High Court, on July 27, 2020, held there were no legal or constitutional impediments in extending reservation to OBCs in the AIQ seats in the medical colleges in Tamil Nadu. The High Court had then directed the Union government to constitute an expert committee for implementing reservation for OBCs in the seats surrendered by Tamil Nadu in the AIQ. However, the High Court had observed that the reservation should be implemented only from the academic year 2021-2022 since it would disturb the selection process that had been set into motion for the academic year of 2020-2021. The State of Tamil Nadu challenged the order in Supreme Court, which upheld the High Court's decision.

Meanwhile, the Centre set up an expert committee to determine the modalities of granting reservation to OBC candidates in the AIQ seats in UG and PG courses in state-run medical colleges within Tamil Nadu from the academic year 2021-2022.

But the DMK filed a contempt petition before the Madras High Court against the Union for non-implementation of OBC reservation in AIQ seats.

However, the Centre issued its notice of July 29, 2021 to implement 27% OBC reservation (non-creamy layer) and 10% EWS reservation in the 15% UG and 50% PG AIQ seats in the current academic session of 2021-22.

The Supreme Court, on January 7 this year, upheld the constitutional validity of the OBC reservation in AIQ medical and dental UG and PART B 10 PG seats. The constitutionality of the criteria used for the identification of the EWS category is yet to be decided.

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Printable version | May 5, 2022 5:17:00 am |