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EWS quota in NEET-AIQ: Supreme Court sets aside Madras High Court order on reservation for EWS

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The Supreme Court on Friday set aside the Madras High Court’s observations that reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) in the NEET-All India Quota (AIQ) medical seats can be implemented only with the approval of Apex Court’s Constitution Bench.

A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and B.V. Nagarathna was hearing the Centre’s plea challenging the High Court’s direction.

The bench said the Madras High Court was considering a contempt petition seeking implementation of OBC reservation in NEET-AIQ and hence, the observations on 10 percent EWS quota amounted to a transgression of its jurisdiction.

The top court noted that after the High Court found no contempt, it has gone into wider spectrum. “There the High Court has really erred… when you are in contempt jurisdiction, you just need to see if the order has been complied or not,” it said.

Appearing on behalf of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), senior advocate Kapil Sibal noted that the issue was complicated and that the High Court’s observation being set aside would have larger ramifications.

Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, appearing for the Centre, argued that the High Court ought not to have made the observations, while it was exercising its contempt power.

The Apex court clarified 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 the top court’s approval on EWS quota.

“We are not expressing opinion on the merits of the case since the points will arise in a bunch of petitions pending adjudication,” the bench said.

The Supreme Court directed 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.

The Madras High Court had last month pronounced its judgment in the contempt plea filed by the ruling DMK over OBC reservation in all India medical seats.

The Madras High Court bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu had said that EWS quota was impermissible till the same wamms approved by the Supreme Court, as it would breach the 50% limit set by the Supreme Court for reservations.

“It is inconceivable that all states having government-run medical colleges would give up a percentage of seats to AIQ but would retain the right to enforce reservation in such quota as per the state norms,” the Madras High Court had said.

Aggrieved by this, the Centre moved to the Apex court on September 3 against the high court”s observation.

On July 29, the Union had decided to provide 27 percent reservation for OBCs 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).

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