Published: 25th September 2021
SC sets aside Madras HC observation on EWS reservation in All India Quota for medical admissions
The court made it clear that it is not quashing thr HC judgement but just setting aside the observations made on the EWS quota
The Supreme Court Friday set aside a Madras High Court direction that the Centre must seek the top court's approval before implementing 10 per cent reservation for the EWS in all-India quota (AIQ) seats of medical colleges, saying it "transgressed the limitations" by entering into areas which were alien to the issue.
The apex court made clear however that it is not quashing the entire high court order passed on August 25 or stating any opinion on its merit but just setting aside the observations made with regard to top court's approval on Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and B V Nagarathna said the high court should not have expressed such an opinion while hearing a contempt petition filed by ruling DMK party in Tamil Nadu for alleged non-compliance of July 27, 2020 order by the Centre on the issue.
"We are clearly of the view that the High Court has transgressed the limitations in the exercise of the contempt jurisdiction by entering into areas which were alien to the issue as to whether the judgement dated July 27, 2020 was complied with," the bench said.
It said that having come to the conclusion that there was no breach of the judgement (July 27, 2020), the rest of discussions in the order of the High Court were unnecessary for the purpose of the contempt petition.
"We therefore hold that the direction that has been issued by the high court in paragraph...is alien to the exercise of contempt jurisdiction and accordingly shall stand set aside," the bench said.
The top court clarified, that the directions of the high court (with regard to EWS quota) is set aside not on merits but on the sole ground that such a direction has transgressed the limitation of the contempt jurisdiction.
"Substantive petitions have been filed before this court challenging the notification dated July 29 (on grant of 27 per cent reservation for OBC and 10 per cent for EWS category in NEET admissions for medical courses), we are clarifying that we are not expressing any opinion on the merit of the submissions which will arise for determination in a group of petitions which are pending before this court for adjudication," it said.
The top court also clarified that in view of the pendency of petitions before this court it is not expressing any opinion on the correctness of the findings of the high court which had approved the July 29 notification providing 27 per cent reservation to OBC candidates for admission in central medical colleges under the AIQ.
During the hearing, the top court said, "What the Madras High Court has done is that it has asked the Centre to seek approval of a five-judge bench which will be hearing a challenge made to the validity of 103rd constitutional amendment providing 10 per cent EWS quota".
The top court disposed of the Centre's appeal against the Madras High Court order.
The bench said that it would hear on October 7, a batch of pleas challenging the Centre's July 29 notification providing 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Class (OBC) and 10 per cent for EWS category in NEET admissions for medical courses.
Senior advocate Arvind Dattar, appearing for some candidates, said they will be raising the question on the validity of the income limit of Rs 8 lakh per annum fixed for EWS category besides the challenge to the July 29 notification.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, assisted by advocate Vivek Singh pressed for some interim relief for not implementing the quota for this academic year.
He said that when the information brochure was issued in February this year, the Centre cannot interfere with the admission process midway by changing the criteria of admission, which will take away 2500 PG seats of General Category students and therefore the centre's July 29 notification is unconstitutional.
The top court directed Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj, appearing for the Centre, to file a joint counter affidavit to the batch of petitions by October 6 and said it will be hearing the matter on October 7.
On July 29, the Centre had decided to provide 27 percent reservation for Other Backward Classes and 10 per cent reservation for EWS in the all India Quota scheme for undergraduate and postgraduate medical/dental courses (MBBS/MD/MS/ Diploma/BDS /MDS).
On August 25, while disposing of the contempt plea of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party moved against the Centre for non-compliance of earlier order, the Madras High Court had approved the July 29 notification providing 27 per cent reservation to OBC candidates for admission in central medical colleges under the AIQ.
The high court, however, had said the inclusion of a further 10 per cent by way of vertical reservation for EWS would require the approval of the Supreme Court and to this extent, the reservation for the EWS, as indicated in the July 29 notification, has to be regarded as impermissible till such approval is obtained.
However, with regard to 10 per cent reservation for EWS, the high court had observed: "The additional reservation provided for economically weaker sections in the notification of July 29, 2021 cannot be permitted, except with the approval of the Supreme Court in such regard."
The high court had approved the notification of the Centre providing 27 per cent reservation to OBC candidates for admission in central medical colleges under the AIQ.