OBC reservation in All India Quota Medical seats: Madras High Court to pronounce judgment in DMK's contempt plea on August 25

A Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu reserved judgment in the matter today.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court

The Madras High Court on Wednesday reserved judgment in the contempt plea moved by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Party (DMK) over the implementation of Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation in State-surrendered All India Quota (AIQ) seats in Tamil Nadu medical colleges.

A Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu informed that it will pronounce its verdict in the matter on Wednesday, August 25, at 2 pm.

The DMK had approached the High Court raising concern that OBC reservation would not be implemented this year for AIQ seats, despite High Court directions to do so in a July 2020 judgment.

However, after the Centre informed that it is proposing to implement only 27% OBC reservation, the dispute centred around what should be the percentage of reservation.

By a notification issued on July 29, 2021, the Central government intimated that it would reserve 27% seats for OBC candidates and 10% seats for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) candidates in AIQ seats.

The DMK has asserted that the percentage of reservation ought to be 50%, in line with the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of Appointments or Posts in the Services under the State) Act, 1993.

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Appearing for the DMK, Senior Advocate P Wilson questioned how the Centre can apply 27% reservation when the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act has not been made applicable to State institutions.

Over the course of hearings in the matter, the Court contemplated whether the State's 1993 law would apply given that AIQ seats are not meant for students in Tamil Nadu alone.

The Chief Justice orally observed that the recognition of OBC communities is not uniform across states. As such, he pointed out that a candidate may not be recognized as OBC in Tamil Nadu, even if he is recognised as such in another state, leading to concerns that OBC candidates outside Tamil Nadu may not be eligible to avail the reservation if the State's law is applied.

The hearings also briefly touched upon whether the Central government had the power to introduce a 10% EWS quota for the AIQ seats, after this aspect was flagged by Wilson.

After the Court asked the Centre to respond on this issue, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) KM Nataraj today maintained that the EWS issue is not related to the present case and that this quota had backing in view of the 103rd Constitutional Amendment. It was also pointed about that a challenge to the validity of the EWS quota is pending consideration before a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court.

Wilson today submitted that if the Court is not going to favour applying the State's 50% OBC reservation rule for AIQ seats, it may at least direct the increase of OBC reservation from the Centre's 27% to 31% while leaving out the 10% EWS quota. Wilson urged for the same as an interim measure for this year, adding that the DMK may be given liberty to challenge the Centre's July 29 notification.

Apart from ASG Nataraj, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and ASG R Sankaranarayanan also appeared for the Central government in the matter.

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