Centre Willing To Provide Reservation To OBCs In All Medical Colleges, Says Total Quota Cannot Exceed 50 Per Cent Cap Imposed By Supreme Court

by M R Subramani - Jun 22, 2020 04:32 PM +05:30 IST
Centre Willing To Provide Reservation To OBCs In All Medical Colleges, Says Total Quota Cannot Exceed 50 Per Cent Cap Imposed By Supreme Court  Medical students. (Vipin Kumar/Mint via GettyImages)
  • The Centre said it plans to apply a state-specific medical seat reservation for OBCs under the all India quota provided it is within the 50 per cent cap as stipulated by the Supreme Court.

The Union government has sought a comprehensive settlement of the issue of reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) students in government-run medical colleges by the Supreme Court, even as it has called bluff of political parties, especially the Dravidian parties, in Tamil Nadu.

It has also made it clear that it will provide reservation to OBCs in all institutions but the quota will not exceed the 50 per cent cap imposed by the Supreme Court in a 1993 judgement.

The Centre was arguing against a batch of petitions filed by a slew of Tamil Nadu political parties such as the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and the communist parties.

The Union government’s counsel pointed out that since 1986, OBC students had been accommodated in the all India quota seats in government-run institutions.

The Centre said the quota was not being implemented in medical colleges run by the state governments. This was the norm even when most of the petitioners (read DMK and AIADMK) were in power through their alliance in the past at the Centre.

The all India quota is made up of 15 per cent of all MBBS seats in the country and 50 per cent of postgraduate medical college seats surrendered by state governments to the Centre.

Political parties are demanding 50 per cent reservation for OBC students according to Tamil Nadu’s 69 per cent reservation formula.

The state has reserved a total of 69 per cent seats in educational institutions for Backward Castes (BCs), OBCs, Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).

A legislation passed in the Tamil Nadu Assembly in 1994 provides for 26.5 per cent reservation to BCs, 3.5 per cent to Backward Muslim castes, 20 per cent to OBCs defined as Most Backward Castes, 15 per cent to SCs, 3 per cent to a sub-community of SCs and 1 per cent to STs.

The Tamil Nadu government, in an effort to protect its reservation policy, got the law included in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, which disallows its judicial review. The Supreme Court, however, said that such legislation can be reviewed.

The legislation was included in the Ninth Schedule to overcome the 1993 Supreme Court ruling that capped the reservation quota.

The political parties have contended that OBCs should get at least 27 per cent reservation in the all India quota seats.

The Union government argued that it has been allocating the reservation quota to OBC students only in institutions it manages, though the SCs and STs are given the stipulated quota in all medical colleges.

The Centre, filing its response through the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said it plans to apply a state-specific reservation for OBCs for medical seats under the all India quota provided it is within the 50 per cent cap as stipulated by the Supreme Court.

It made it clear that it does not want to disturb the existing seats available to the unreserved category as well as the SCs and STs. The Centre said it wants to increase the number of seats and its submission is pending with the Supreme Court.

Currently, the seats surrendered by the state are filled as per a Supreme Court directive, the Union government said.

A petition filed in 2015 seeking 27 per cent reservation to OBCs in institutions not run by the Centre is pending before the Supreme Court, which will take up the case on 8 July.

Various political parties that had petitioned the Madras High Court for the reservation benefits to OBCs should implead themselves in that case, called Saloni Kumar case.

Political parties in Tamil Nadu first petitioned the Supreme Court against the Director-General of Health Services declaring results to fill postgraduate medical seats for the current academic year as OBCs were not extended reservation benefits in the all India quota.

The Supreme Court told the parties that “reservation is not a fundamental right” and asked them to petition the Madras High Court.

The Centre told the Madras High court that the candidates list for the second round of counselling was published on 16 June and the selected ones were set to report to the allocated institutions.

It argued that any interim order would affect hospitals, where the selected candidates would join, as they were short of staff to tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The case will come up for further hearing on 15 July.

M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani

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