Supreme Court sets aside Madras High Court remarks on EWS quota

The Supreme Court on Friday set aside a Madras High Court observation that the Centre ought not to have provided 10% reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) of society in the all India quota medical seats without obtaining the express approval of the Supreme Court.

The High Court’s remarks in August came while closing a contempt of court case filed by the DMK.

Also read | Health Ministry announces 27% reservation for OBCs, 10% for EWS in national quota medical seats

“This observation has to be set aside because it has nothing to do with the contempt plea... The observation by the High Court was unnecessary for deciding the contempt,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, sharing a Bench with Justice B.V. Nagarathna, observed.

Not on merits

However, Justice Chandrachud made it very clear that the HC’s observations were being set aside only because they were made while dealing with a contempt plea and had strayed outside its jurisdiction. The top court refrained from making any comment about the merits of the EWS quota issue.

Instead, the court scheduled for October 7 a detailed hearing of a batch of petitions challenging the entirety of the Centre’s July 29 notification of 27% reservation for OBC and 10% for EWS in the NEET all India quota (AIQ) seats.

Supreme Court sets aside Madras High Court remarks on EWS quota

The High Court had approved a July 29 notification of the Central government providing 27% reservation to OBC (Other Backward Classes) candidates for admission in central medical colleges under the AIQ.

It, however, had said that the inclusion of a further 10% by way of vertical reservation for EWS would be impermissible until the top court approved it.

The Centre had rushed to the top court on September 3 against the observation, saying: “It was unnecessary for the High Court to have gone into an evaluation of the July 29 notification...”

“In a contempt case, the High Court went ahead and examines all other issues... We had started the process [the implementation of 10% EWS quota as per the July 29 notification]. But the HC observation made us stop,” Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj, for the Centre, submitted.

The quota covers undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses, starting from the current academic year. The government believes the quota policy would help marginalised sections get better opportunities.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, for the petitioners, said the July 29 notification was unconstitutional.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar, also for the petitioners, said the notification raises the question whether ₹8 lakh should be the criteria for considering the EWS category.

The petition also said it has to be examined whether there would be vertical or horizontal reservation. Mr. Datar said the such quota sucks away over 2,500 seats from the general category.

The petitioners contended that the selection process had already begun for the academic year and cannot be interfered with. The implementation of the quota policy now would cause grave injustice, they contended.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for Tamil Nadu, said the question of the EWS quota is pending before a Constitution Bench. He made a subtle point that the EWS has national ramifications and all the States should be heard by the court.

Senior advocate P. Wilson, for DMK, said it was the party’s petition that made reservations in All India Quota seats across the country.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 11:18:48 PM |

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