Tamil Nadu

TN Governor grants assent for horizontal quota in medical admissions

Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit.   | Photo Credit: K. Pichumani

Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Friday granted assent to the Bill providing for 7.5% horizontal quota for students who have studied in State government schools and qualified in NEET for admissions to undergraduate medical courses, after the Solicitor General of India opined that the Bill was in consonance with the Constitution of India.

The Governor’s assent comes less than 24 hours after the Tamil Nadu government decided to take the executive route citing powers under Article 162 of the Constitution and issued a G.O to provide for the quota.

“This is to inform the people of Tamil Nadu that the Governor has given his assent to the Bill titled Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Courses in Medicine, Dentistry, Indian Medicine and Homeopathy on preferential basis to the students of Government Schools Bill 2020,” a press release from the Tamil Nadu Raj Bhavan said. The Bill was passed in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on September 15.

The release said the Governor had sought legal opinion of the Solicitor General of India through a letter dated September 26 and his opinion was received on Thursday. “As soon as the opinion was received, the Governor has given assent to the Bill,” the Raj Bhavan said.

Solicitor General’s opinion

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, in his reply to the letter from the Governor’s office seeking his opinion on the Bill, said Article 15 [5] of the Constitution, “specifically provides that the State is empowered to make a special provision by law for the advancement of any socially or educationally backward classes of citizens insofar as such special provisions relate to admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions whether aided or unaided by the State”.

Mr. Mehta said Article 14 of the Constitution provides for equality before law and equal protection of law within the territory of India. “It is settled law the equality code under the Indian Constitution provides for an equal treatment among equals and allows unequal treatment amongst unequals”.

He said the permissibility of differential treatment to a socially and educationally backward class is premised on the basis of the principles under Article 14 of the Constitution that “permits classification on the basis of intelligible differentia and rational nexus with the object sought to be achieved”.

The Solicitor General said in this case, the identification of such socially and backward class has been supported by a report of the Commission [under the Chairmanship of retired Justice P. Kalaiyarasan].

“The said intelligible differentia would enable the state to make provisions of affirmative action to such identifiable socially and educationally backward class”. He further said this may be subject to rigours of judicial review and other Constitutional principles that entail an upper limit of reserved posts or seats in a given exam as well as principles laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Ashok Kumar vs Union of India.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2020 3:03:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tn-governor-grants-assent-for-horizontal-quota-in-medical-admissions/article32981110.ece

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