Tamil Nadu

HC seeks Centre’s stand on quota in medical seats

The Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to make its stand clear on the State’s legislation providing 7.5% horizontal reservation to NEET-qualified State government school students in medical admissions every year.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy accepted a plea made by senior counsel Sriram Panchu, representing a writ petitioner who had challenged the law, and directed the Centre to file its response within four weeks.

The direction was issued after the State government filed a 76-page counter affidavit, defending the Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Courses in Medicine, Dentistry, Indian Medicine and Homeopathy on a preferential basis to Students of Government Schools Act of 2020.

The counter, filed through Special Government Pleader E. Manoharan, stated that 435 of the 5,567 MBBS and BDS seats were allotted to government school students for the academic year 2020-21 on the basis of the Act, aimed at uplifting students belonging to weaker socio-economic backgrounds.

“Government school students form a distinct and special category/class by themselves due to their economic, social and educational backwardness,” the government asserted, adding that it was fully competent to pass legislation providing horizontal reservation for them.

Tracing its legislative powers to Article 246(2), read with Entry 25 of List III (concurrent list) of the seventh schedule to the Constitution, as well as Articles 15 and 46, the government said that Article 15(1) implicitly provides for reservation to weaker classes (special category).

Filing the counter affidavit on behalf of the Chief Secretary too, Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan said government school students had been found as socially, educationally and economically backward as per a report submitted by retired High Court judge P. Kalaiyarasan.

“Their [government school students’] cognitive abilities have also been found to be 15 months behind students hailing from socio-economically forward backgrounds,” the government said. The government stated that the law only provided a level-playing field for all students.

After receiving a copy of the counter affidavit, senior counsel Rev. Fr. Xavier Arulraj, representing another writ petitioner, urged the court to grant him two weeks to file a rejoinder. The judges accepted his plea and adjourned further hearing by four weeks.

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Printable version | Mar 2, 2021 11:55:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-seeks-centres-stand-on-quota-in-medical-seats/article33680120.ece

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