PG quota state's call, says SC

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By OUR LEGAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 3.12.09
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New Delhi, Dec. 2: A state government has the discretion to disallow reservation of seats for backward sections in post-graduate courses if it deems fit, the Supreme Court has ruled.

“Article 15 (4) is an enabling provision and the state government is the best judge to grant reservation for SC/ST/ OBC categories at the post-graduate level,” a three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, said. “In our view, every state can take its own decision with regard to reservation depending on various factors,” the bench said, adding that such a decision could not be said to have been taken in perpetuity.

The decision could be reconsidered by a state government if the circumstances warranted, it said.

The court was dealing with a petition filed by Dr Gulshan Prakash against the Haryana government’s decision not to allow reservations in the entrance test for Doctor of Medicine (MD), Master of Surgery (MS), post-graduate diploma and Master of Dental Surgery (MDS) in the state.

Under Article 15(4), states could, if they wanted, provide for reservations by either a law or executive instructions at any level for socially and educationally backward classes. On the scope of the article, the court said preferential treatment could be given when socially and educationally backward classes needed it.

“This article enables the state government to make provisions for the uplift of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, including reservation of seats for admission to educational institutions,” the court said. “Article 15(4) does not make any mandatory provision for reservation and the power to make such reservation under Article 15(4) is discretionary and no writ can be issued to effect reservation. Such special provision may be made not only by the legislature but also by the executive.”

The Haryana government had taken a decision on April 5, 1998, not to have quotas for SC/STs at the post-graduate level. That decision was communicated to the Pandit Bhagwat Dayal Sharma Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Rohtak, and the Maharshi Dayanand University, also in Rohtak.

Dr Prakash challenged it as violative of Article 15(4) first in the High Court where he lost on February 5, 2008. The prospectuses of the medical colleges for the academic year 2009-2010 did not have provisions for reservation at the post-graduate level.

He then filed an appeal in the Supreme Court. His lawyers argued that even in the All India Entrance Examination for post-graduate courses, the government had made a provision for reservation for SC/ST candidates. He argued that Haryana was bound to follow the same and issue appropriate orders.

The apex court upheld the argument of the state that had considered the recommendations of the Medical Council of India and precedents in other states. These showed reservation for SC/STs in post-graduate courses was neither feasible nor warranted.