Tamil Nadu

NEET Bill: T.N.’s executive order route has parallels in 1990s

Extending gratitude: Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami thanking the Governor for his assent to the horizontal reservation Bill.  

The AIADMK government’s decision of taking the executive order route on the 7.5% horizontal quota for students of government schools in admissions to undergraduate medical courses, pending Governor Banwarilal Purohit’s assent to a Bill on the same subject (which has since received his approval), has parallels to what the Jayalalithaa regime did in the 1990s.

On November 16, 1994, the then Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, announced changes in the allocation of portfolios of four Ministers. An order was issued, taking recourse to the Tamil Nadu Government Business Rules — an uncommon option. That was the period when differences between Jayalalithaa and Governor M. Channa Reddy were out in the open. Of the six Ministers, two — K.A. Sengottaiyan and D. Jayakumar — still hold portfolios.

On October 8, 1994, her advice, indicating changes in the subjects of the Ministers, was conveyed formally to the Governor, but there was no word from the latter, till November 15, according to the then Chief Secretary, N. Haribhaskar, who recalled the sequence of events in an affidavit filed before the Madras High Court in December 1994.

The former official said there was an “urgent need felt in public interest by the Chief Minister” to have the re-allotment effected. This was why the government order was issued. The Chief Minister, in her affidavit, stated that there was “neither illegality nor irregularity” in her action. Her action was performed, exercising powers under Explanation I to Business Rule 5, and orders issued thereunder, she had submitted. In February 1995, the High Court upheld the decision of the government and noted that the Governor had subsequently approved the changes.

Another decision that hogged limelight later was the first extension of service for Mr. Haribhaskar himself, who was due for retirement on November 30, 1994. The files concerning the proposal on extension were sent to the Governor on October 24 that year, and they were returned to the office of the Chief Secretary on November 28, with Dr. Reddy disapproving the proposal to extend Mr. Haribhaskar’s service. But the Chief Minister, on November 24, cleared the proposal, again, invoking the Business Rules. This matter too became a subject of litigation before the High Court, which, in December 1995, cleared the Chief Minister’s action. Mr. Haribhaskar got two more extensions and remained in service till June 1996.

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