A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking to quash the Central Government decision to not implement any effective special provisions in favour of the Socially Educationally Backward Classes of Citizens (SEBCs)/Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the All India Quota in medical entrance examinations. These provisions are contemplated similar in nature to Article 15(4) of the Constitution for admission seats to graduate and postgraduate medical and dental seats for the Academic Year 2020 and for all academic years in the future.
Article 15(4) provides-
“(4) Nothing in this article or in clause ( 2 ) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes”.
The petition has been filed by Dr. Thol. Thirumavalavan, who is also a Member of Parliament (MP) from Chidambaram constituency in the State of Tamil Nadu. He contends that the Centre’s decision denying special provisions for OBCs in the AIQ in medical and dental admissions across all deemed universities, state government, state government aided and private institutions is unconstitutional. He asserts that Article 15(4) is not merely an enabling provision on the State, but a power coupled with a duty. Thus, he argues that this decision is in violation of Articles 14 and 15(4) of the Indian Constitution.
“He asserts that Article 15(4) is not merely an enabling provision on the State, but a power coupled with a duty.”
“A decision by the State to either implement or to not implement any purported affirmative action (including reservations) that the State fails to justify based on relevant factors is not merely arbitrary, irrational, and unreasonable. Such a decision is an affront to the value of substantive equality that this Court ought to intervene to prevent, prohibit and/or correct”, the plea states.
Further, it is alleged that the failure to make appropriate special provisions that will ensure better representation of SEBC/OBCs in the All India Quota seats has resulted in gross under-representation of the SEBC/OBCs in respect of All India Quota seats.
In support, the petitioner has inter-alia relied upon the Annual Report of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the year 2017-2018, published on 01.09.2018, indicating inter alia that mere 1.7% of the AIQ seats had been allotted to SEBC/OBCs although, they make up more than 50% of the population according to the Mandal Commission report. This also meant that SEBC/OBCs stood to lose 93% of the AIQ seats they would have been entitled to if there were special provisions such as 27% reservations implemented.
The plea notes that by practice established over the years under the Admissions Regulations, that were framed under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, and by virtue of Supreme Court decisions, the central government exercises power and control over the following classes of seats for such Medical and Dental Admissions.
- All-India Quota of all seats across all state government, state government aided and private institutions, and deemed universities.
- All-India Quota of Central Educational Institutions as defined under the Central Educational Institution (Reservation in Admissions) Act, 2006 (AIQ-CEI).
- Central Pool seats for nominees of Government of India (NGOI) among voluntarily contributed seats by respective institutions /”and state governments – originally created to benefit some of he States that did not have a medical college or university.
“ This also meant that SEBC/OBCs stood to lose 93% of the AIQ seats they would have been entitled to if there were special provisions such as 27% reservations implemented.”
The quantum of minimum quota for AIQ and AIQ-CEI under (a) and (b) as referred above is 15% of seats in each institution for graduate admission (M.B.B.S and B.D.S) and 50% for post-graduate courses. Furthermore, between 250 and 300 seats are allotted to the NGOI pool under (c) above.
“The failure to make appropriate special provisions that will ensure better representation of SEBC/OBCs in the All India Quota seats has resulted in gross under-representation of the SEBC/OBCs in respect of All India Quota seats”, the petitioner contends.
The petitioner also states that he had made a representation to the Government, on June 28, 2019, flagging the denial of dental seats to OBCs in central pool, but to no avail.
The petition has been filed through Advocate-on-Record Prasanna S. it has also sought a direction to Centre to consider implementing effective special provisions, of the nature contemplated by Article 15(4) of the Constitution, in favour of the Socially Educationally Backward Classes of Citizens (SEBCs)/Other Backward Classes (OBCs) or Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST), in allotting central pool/NGOI quota seats for admissions to graduate and post-graduate medical and dental seats for the Academic Year 2020-21 and for all academic years in the future.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the plea tomorrow i.e. July 13