Centre to be impleaded in PIL on quota for refugees

CHENNAI OCT. 22. The Centre is to be impleaded as a party to a public interest litigation petition by the Janata Party president, Subramanian Swamy, seeking to restore reservation of seats for Sri Lankan refugees in educational institutions in Tamil Nadu.

The First Bench of the Madras High Court, comprising the Chief Justice, B. Subhashan Reddy, and Justice A. Kulasekaran, gave a direction in this regard to Dr. Swamy today, after the Additional Advocate-General, R. Muthukumaraswamy, said the State had no document after 1988 to show that there was a Central directive to provide seats for Sri Lankan refugees every year.

However, Dr. Swamy produced a 1991 Central directive and took exception to the State's ``attempt to mislead the court''. Still the Bench said it would not be possible to give a suitable direction to the Government, unless evidence of a direction having been given continuously was produced.

When Dr. Swamy sought an interim order so that refugee-students would not lose an academic year, the Bench said it would not give orders piecemeal. However, it asked him to implead the Centre. Mr. Muthukumaraswamy said the State would also write to the Centre.

Among other things, the petition seeks to create seats in arts and science and professional colleges and other institutions for the refugee students ``without affecting the regular intake of Indian students and those enjoying reservation''. The quota had been available for these students in almost all educational institutions, including law colleges, polytechnics, ITIs and agriculture colleges since 1984.

According to Dr. Swamy, setting apart seats in educational institutions was one of the most effective `empowerment programmes' as it would wean away refugee youth from the cult of violence and unlawful activities.

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