The Madras High Court on Friday quashed a Tamil Nadu government order that reserved 85 per cent of MBBS and BDS seats for state board students and 15 per cent seats for CBSE and other boards. The court called the order a discrimination among equals.
Soon after the court gave its judgment, Tamil Nadu Health and Family Welfare Minister C Vijayabaskar said that the state governement would appeal against the verdict.
“A single judge has issued the order (quashing the GO). We will immediately appeal before a (division) bench of the high court,” Vijayabaskar said.
Allowing petitions by some CBSE students challenging the June 22 Government Order, Justice K Ravichandrababu said, “There is no difficulty for this court to come to the conclusion that the impugned reservation amounts to discrimination among equals and that it violates Art 14 of the Constitution of India…It is an arbitrary exercise of power that it is totally unreasonable that under the guise of level playing, it makes the equals unequals.”
The judge also held that the reservation indirectly meddled with the object and process of the National Eligibility-cum- Entrance Test (NEET) and compromised on merits of selection.
It was not in dispute that NEET had been introduced by virtue of regulations made by the Medical Council of India and also by amending the Indian Medical Council Act 1956 stipulating that only merit in the all-India exam had to be considered for admission to medical courses, the Judge added.
He directed authorities to prepare a fresh merit list and conduct the counselling for admissions accordingly.
But the judge made it clear that the court wanted to place on record that it was not against promotion of interest of students from rural background, especially those studying in state board schools.
“…it is evident that the policy decision as projected in the impugned GO seems to have been taken based on the proposal of the AD without there being any discussion by the cabinet to that effect,” the Judge said in his order.
He noted that certainly the AD was not competent to take policy decisions, which can be taken only by the government.
The court had on July 11 reserved orders on the petitions by Darnish Kumar, a student represented by his parents, and two others and ordered status quo on the admission process till the adjudication of the matter.
The state government had defended the Government Order, saying the policy of the state government was not in favour of NEET, conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
More than 50 per cent of the questions in the NEET were based on the CBSE syllabus and hence there was an inequality in the all-India exam, it had contended.
The petitioners argued that the Supreme court had clearly stated that when admission is based on entrance examination NEET, it should make no difference whether the qualifying examination was conducted by the state board or CBSE, because no discrimination can be made between the schools affiliated to both the boards.
(With inputs from PTI)