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In Madras HC, DMK says Centre’s proposal for 27 pc OBC quota in all India quota seats not acceptable

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu was adjudicating upon a contempt Petition filed by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam over the delay in implementing OBC reservations for AIQ seats of medical colleges in the State for the academic year 2021-2022.

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The Madras High Court on Tuesday was informed by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) that the Centre’s proposal of implementing 27 percent reservation for Other Backward Class (OBC) candidates in All India Quota (AIQ) seats of medical colleges in Tamil Nadu was unacceptable.

The petitioner said OBC candidates must be eligible for 50 percent reservation as envisaged under 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 (1993 Act) and as previously affirmed by the Court vide its earlier decision dated July 27, 2020.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu was adjudicating upon a contempt petition filed by the DMK over the delay in implementing OBC reservations for AIQ seats of medical colleges in the state for 2021-2022.

The Union had filed an additional affidavit appending a copy of a notice dated July 29, 2021 issued by the office of the Medical Counselling Committee of the Government of India, Directorate General of Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The overall reservation in 15 per cent under-graduate and 50 percent post-graduate All India Quota seats for medical colleges in the State has been indicated as follows:

Scheduled Castes – 15% (ii) Scheduled Tribes – 7.5% (iii) OBC (Non-Creamy Layer) as per the Central OBC list – 27% (iv) EWS – as per Central Government norms – 10% (v) PwD – 5% Horizontal Reservation as per NMC norms.

The petitioner in the contempt proceedings, which may also now be regarded as the State since the petitioner is the political party in power at the moment, contended that the judgment of the court of July 27, 2020, unequivocally accepted that the reservation in terms of 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 would be applicable.

According to the petitioner, the All India Quota seats will be governed by the same ratio of reservation as indicated in the 1993 Act and such aspect of the matter is evident, inter alia, from paragraph 103 of the judgment of the court as accepted by the Supreme Court at paragraph 8 of the order dated October 26, 2020 passed on the State’s special leave petition arising out of this court’s order.

Indeed, paragraph 8 of the Supreme Court order noticed the scope of the special leave petition and observed that it was confined to whether a direction could be issued for implementation of the reservation pertaining to OBC candidates for admissions to undergraduate medical courses for 2020 itself.

However, it is the submission of the Union and the alleged contemnors that even the High Court judgment noticed that All India Quota seats were a separate class which would not be governed by the principle of domicile and, accordingly, a Committee was constituted by this court, which was approved by the Supreme Court, to ascertain the extent of reservation that would be desirable in the All India Quota seats.

“Prima facie, such submission militates against the purpose indicated in both the High Court order and the Supreme Court order for constituting the Committee. Both orders indicated that the Committee would work out the modalities of implementation of the reservation for OBC candidates to All India Quota seats in this State. If it is a question of implementation, the Committee was not tasked with the duty of ascertaining the extent of reservation or the inter se allocation thereof between groups,” the Court observed.

It is the Union’s further assertion that the scope of the present lis is to, in effect, execute the previous order of this court in line with the observations in the order of the Supreme Court, once it is seen that the order of this court was capable of a second interpretation and the alleged contemnors have bonafide been guided in such light, no contempt would have been committed.

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“The object of any judicial exercise is ultimately to reach the benefit of the decision to those who are entitled thereto. It is true that contempt being a quasi-criminal jurisdiction, if an order is capable of two meanings and the conduct of the alleged contemnors seems to be guided by either, the fact that the other meaning appeals to the court cannot prompt the court to hold the persons in contempt. Equally, the contempt jurisdiction is an equitable mode of execution and this court cannot leave the issue unresolved merely by saying that no contempt has been committed.

A judgment has been rendered by the court and such judgment has to be interpreted to ensure that it is implemented, subject to any order of the Supreme Court in such regard. It does not appear that even the petitioner cares too much for the alleged contemnors being hauled up as long as the order of the court of July 27, 2020 is implemented in letter and spirit. Yet, there are several paragraphs in the judgment of this court which, despite accepting the Act of 1993 in this State to have a say in the matter, speak of a balance that is required to be struck and the Union’s stand now is that the balance has been struck by the Committee by indicating that one of the two options suggested could be adopted; and the Union has adopted the second option, strictly in terms of the recommendations of the relevant Committee,” the order reads.

At the request of the Union, the matter is adjourned and will now appear on August 9, the Court ordered.

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