SC to take a call on Maratha quota in PG medical admissions
Mumbai: The applicability of Maratha Quota into this year PG Medical admissions is subject to the ruling of the Supreme Court as the case is pending and the response of the Maharashtra government on a petition challenging the reservation is awaited.
Medical Dialogues had extensively reported about the introduction of Maratha quota as the cases which followed thereafter last year's academic session.
On November 30 2020, the Maharashtra Legislature had passed a bill proposing 16 per cent reservation in education and government jobs for the Marathas, declared SEBC by the government and hence it decided to grant them the reservation.
In Maharashtra, 50 % of medical seats in government-run medical colleges are for reserved category (SC/ST/OBC/ VJNT). Out of the other 50% which is known as the open category; 14% of seats go to Persons with Disability (PwD), defence and other quotas. There is also a special quota (depending on eligible candidates) for students from the reserved categories who are eligible for an open quota seat based on their scores, ranging from 3%-5%.
In addition, 10% has been fixed for medical students belonging to Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota.
Further, the implementation of 16% Maratha quota was done which left a meagre 5 % for candidates vying medical admission on merit basis.
Aggrieved with less number of seats, various petitions were filed with the HC by the meritorious candidates. Later the supreme court ruled in favour of the merit however, the state moved the apex bench seeking reservation.
Later, the ordinance route was taken by the state to allow PG medical admissions to SEBC candidates and the Maharashtra State Reservation (of seats for admission in educational institutions in the State and for appointments in the public services and posts under the State) for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2019 was put in place.
While deciding to examine the validity of the SEBC Act, the top court, on July 12, last year, had refused to stay the Bombay High Court order upholding the quota law with certain modifications.
"We make it clear that the order of the High Court on the reservation will not have retrospective effect," the apex court had said.
The high court had held that 16 per cent reservation was not justifiable and ruled that quota should not exceed 12 per cent in employment and 13 per cent in admissions.
The top court, on February 5, had refused to stay the Bombay High Court order upholding a Maharashtra law granting reservation to Marathas in education and jobs.
The 74% reservation in education in Maharashtra comprises of SCs 13%, STs 7%, OBCs 19%, Special Backward Class 2%, Vimukta Jati 3%, Nomadic Tribes (B) 2.5%, Dhangar (Nomadic Tribes C) 3.5%, Vanjari (Nomadic Tribes D) 2%, Maratha 12% and EWS 10%, reports TOI
Now recently, the Supreme Court has sought a response from the Maharashtra government on a plea of 6 MBBS doctors seeking a direction that the state law granting 12 per cent quota to Marathas be not made applicable for the admissions into the PG Medical and Dental Courses for this academic year.
The bench of honourable Justices L Nageswara Rao and Krishna Murari, in the proceedings held through video conferencing, also made clear that "all the admissions to the PG Medical and Dental Courses in the state" for the current academic year would be "subject to the outcome" the appeal challenging the state law on Maratha quota.
The apex court is already seized of the appeals against the 'Maharashtra State Reservation (of seats for admission in educational institutions in the State and for appointments in the public services and posts under the State) for socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018.
The present petition filed by 6 MBBS doctors stated that they have cleared the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET PG 2020) with high merit and are now constrained to approach this court against violation of their fundamental rights such as the right to equality of the Constitution.
"It is stated that the application of SEBC reservations (i.e. Reservation of 12 per cent of Maratha community) in Medical PG admissions has led to gross injustice and unequal treatment to the open category meritorious students of Maharashtra, who can now compete only on the reduced 26 per cent seats in PG admission as 74 per cent of seats in the state are reserved. The reservation in State has seriously prejudiced the meritorious candidates in the open category and has jeopardized their future," the plea said.
The plea said that the Maratha quota law "should not be made applicable to the admission to Post Graduate Medical and Dental Courses in the state of Maharashtra for the academic year 2020-2021," it said.
"This court time and again in catena of decisions has held that at the highest levels of medical education excellence cannot be compromised to the detriment of the nation. Admissions to the highest available medical courses in the country at the super specialty levels, where even the facilities for training are limited, must be given only on the basis of competitive merit. There can be no relaxation at this level," the counsel of the petitioners contended.
It was submitted that till 2018, the reservation in the state was 52 per cent and "thereafter, EWS reservation of 10 per cent and Martha reservation of 12 per cent was added in 2019.
"It is humbly submitted that the petitioners who had taken admission in MBBS in or before 2018 cannot be subjected to these additional reservations which came into force in 2019. It would be extremely unfair and a grave violation of principles of natural justice to the petitioner who admitted themselves in MBBS course under 52 per cent reservation policy of the state with legitimate expectation to compete under 48 per cent seats in PG but are forced to compete only under 26 per cent seats for PG admissions due to subsequent reservation policy," the plea read, quotes PTI.
The top court took note of the submissions of doctors' counsels, and issued notices to the state government, the Maharashtra State Common Entrance Test Cell (Maha CET Cell) and the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) which are responsible for conducting the examination and counselling of the selected candidates for the admissions in PG Medical and dental courses.
Noting the urgency of the matter and the Supreme Court decided to hear the fresh plea on July 7 along with pending ones against the state quota law.