The Madras High Court on Monday cleared the decks for OBC reservation under All India Quota (AIQ) medical seats in non-central institutions and gave the Centre three months time to take a decision on the percentage.
“…We find that on principle there is no legal or constitutional impediment for extending the benefit of reservation to OBC in the state surrendered AIQ seats of the UG/PG medical courses in the state-run medical colleges within Tamil Nadu, subject to any further directions or orders of the Apex Court,” the first bench of Chief Justice A P Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said.
Disagreeing with the contention of the Medical Council of India that permitting reservation in AIQ seats would compromise merit, the court said the argument gets diluted as NEET examinations are now clearly designed to allow only such candidates to be admitted, who secure a minimum merit.
“Thus, application of any reservation rule, be at the instance of the state specific law or as per any reservation policy framed by the central government for AIQ seats will not affect merit,” the court asserted.
However, the bench restrained itself from passing a mandamus against the Centre to provide the reservation as it relates to a policy decision.
“The interference with a policy matter, if already taken, may be permissible through a judicial review to a limited extent but, on the other hand, it is debatable as to whether a policy framed in the shape of a proposal and not implemented can be enforced in the absence of a crystallised legal right.
The court said it is issuing the directions, which are not a policy declaration nor a mandamus to declare a policy.
It said the proposal (to provide OBC reservation) as committed is already in place as professed by the central government and legally supportable by a state law.
Since the seats are AIQ, it requires a decision with the participation of the authorities, keeping in view the fact that the control of setting of coordinated standards of higher education is with the central government and the MCI in such matters as held by the Constitution Bench in Saurabh Chaudri’s case, the court added.
To apply this on principle, the matter has to be resolved between the state and the centre with the participation of the MCI and dental council, it said.
“Therefore, we find that it would be appropriate that the issue is referred to a committee for providing the terms of implementation of such reservation as claimed by the petitioners,” the court added.
The court also made it clear that any decision of the committee would apply only to future academic years and not this academic year.