Bombay HC Sets Aside Goa Govt's Decision on 41 percent Reservation in PG Medical seats
Panaji: Observing that the Goa Government's decision of implementing 41% reservations for the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Castes (OBC) in the state quota post-graduate seats was contrary to principles laid down by the Supreme Court, the Bombay High Court at Goa has recently struck down the State's notification in this matter.
The High Court bench comprising of Justices M S Sonak and M S Jawalkar also opined that such a reservation policy that was being implemented in Goa medical and dental colleges from the academic year 2021-2022 onwards, had been taken in haste by the Government without application of mind, reports HT.
Further, such a policy was in violation of the State's own rules for PG medical admissions which had specified that admissions would strictly be on the basis of merit except for some grace marks given to those having disadvantaged backgrounds.
As per the latest media report by Hindustan Times, the State Government in a notification issued in May last year, had declared implementing 41% reservations in postgraduate courses at the Goa Medical College (GMC) from the academic year 2021-2020 onwards. The reservation included 12% in favour of STs, 2% in favour of SCs, and 27% in favour of OBCs.
However, challenging the Government notification, a plea was filed by a group of more than 100 doctors and medical students.
Responding to the plea, the Government had argued before the High Court that the notification was in tune with orders of 2007, where the Government had implemented a 12% reservation for STs in all government-run and aided educational institutions. Reliance was further placed upon a 2014 notification, in which the Government had increased the pre-existing reservation for the OBCs from 19.5% to 27%.
It was further argued by the Government that no implementing the reservation for the PG medical courses back in 2007 was a "failure/lapse" on the part of the Government.
However, not impressed with such arguments the court was quoted saying by Hindustan Times, "The attempt, it appears, is to downplay this long period of over 14 years and to suggest that there was no conscious decision against the implementation or application of reservation policy to PG courses at GMC and GDC. Having regard to this length of time, a cogent explanation was due, but the same is not forthcoming either from the notings in the file or the affidavit of the State government."
At this outset, the High Court bench also clarified that if there is a conflict between two sets of instructions- to be more specific, the general administrative instructions by the government that reservations would be applied to all educational institutes, and rules clarifying PG medical and dental admissions- it was the latter that would have precedence.
Thus, disposing of the petition the HC bench opined that a failure "to take into account vital and relevant considerations which the decision-maker was bound to" made the decision of implementing reservations in PG medical and dental admission from this year onwards "unreasonable and arbitrary."
"Such a serious decision to reserve 41% of the State quota seats to PG courses at GMC ought to have been preceded by application of mind to a host of relevant considerations referred to in a plethora of decisions of the Supreme Court on the subject as well as the considerations flagged by the dean of GMC. For all these reasons as well, the impugned decision is vitiated and liable to be struck down," noted the bench.
Further noting that the recommendations made by the Goa Commission for implementing reservations for SC/ST and OBC were made without consulting the State Government and to be more specific the deans of GMC and GDC, and the Government hadn't specified how the notification could impact them, the bench also struck down those two recommendations.