Supreme Court Sets Aside Madras HC Observations on EWS Quota in AIQ Medical Admissions
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday opined that it was 'unnecessary' for the Madras High Court to mention that reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) in the NEET-All India Quota (AIQ) medical seats can be implemented only with the approval of top court's Constitution bench.
Setting aside those observations made by the High Court while considering a contempt plea by DMK, the Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and B.V. Nagarathna noted that the high court was examining a contempt petition, which sought implementation of OBC reservation in NEET-AIQ, therefore observations on 10 percent EWS quota was transgression of its jurisdiction, adds IANS.
"The High Court has transgressed the limits of the contempt jurisdiction by entering into areas which were alien to the issue as to whether the judgment dated 27 July 2020 was complied with. Having come to the conclusion that there was no disobedience of the judgment, the rest of the discussion in the order of the High Court commencing from paragraph 56 was unnecessary for the purpose of the contempt petition," noted the bench.
This comes after the Centre had moved the top court challenging the observations made by the Madras High Court.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that while disposing of the contempt plea of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) against the Centre, the Madras High Court bench comprising of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu, on August 25, had approved the July 29 notification of the central government providing 27 percent reservation to OBC (other backward classes) candidates for admission in central medical colleges under the all-India quota (AIQ).
The bench, however, had expressed its doubts regarding the implementation of 10 percent reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the AIQ seats.
The high court had said the inclusion of a further 10 percent by way of vertical reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) would require the approval of the Supreme Court and to this extent, the reservation for the EWS, as indicated in the July 29 notification, has to be regarded as impermissible till such approval is obtained.
However, these observations were challenged by the Centre before the top court and the Union of India appealed before the Apex Court on ground that the High Court has, in the course of its judgment, dealt with issues that did not arise for adjudication in the contempt jurisdiction, especially after it found that there was no breach of its judgment dated 27 July 2020.
Further, Additional Solicitor General, K M Nataraj submitted before the court that when the High Court came to a conclusion that there was no breach of the July 27 order, it was unnecessary and inappropriate for the High Court to evaluate the validity of the notification dated 29 July 2021.
He urged that this was unnecessary to determine whether there was compliance with its judgment dated 27 July 2020. So, the High Court transgressed its jurisdiction in a contempt petition by entering upon an area which did not arise before it, argued Mr. Nataraj.
After listening to the contentions, the top court bench held that "The High Court has transgressed the limits of the contempt jurisdiction by entering into areas which were alien to the issue as to whether the judgment dated 27 July 2020 was complied with. Having come to the conclusion that there was no disobedience of the judgment, the rest of the discussion in the order of the High Court commencing from paragraph 56 was unnecessary for the purpose of the contempt petition."
"Though the validity of the notification dated 29 July 2021 was not challenged before it, as it could not, in the contempt jurisdiction, there was no occasion for the High court to enter upon the validity of the notification. Once, it came to the conclusion that there was no contempt of its order, the High Court ought to have disposed of the contempt petition. The rumination in the concluding para of the judgment was unnecessary for the resolution of the contempt petition," further noted the court.
Therefore, disposing of the petition, the top court bench noted, "since no case for invoking the contempt jurisdiction was found to exist by the High Court, it was unnecessary and inappropriate for it to enter upon the validity of the notification dated 29 July 2021 which was not under challenge."
Setting aside the observations made by the High Court, the top court bench noted, "We clarify that the direction of the High Court in paragraph 66(III) is being set aside by this Court on the sole ground that such a direction could not have been issued in the exercise of the contempt jurisdiction."
The Supreme Court, however, clarified it is not saying anything on the merits of the EWS quota in NEET-AIQ, and it is only setting aside high court's observation, as it transgressed the limits of contempt jurisdiction.
"Since substantive petitions have been filed before this Court challenging the notification dated 29 July 2021, we clarify that we are not expressing any opinion on the validity of the notification which will arise for determination in the group of petitions which are pending before this Court for adjudication. Nor will the impugned decision of the High Court be construed as any adjudication on the validity of the notification. We clarify likewise, in view of the pendency of the petitions before this Court challenging the notification dated 29 July 2021, that the finding of the High Court in paragraph 66(II) was unnecessary for its decision on the contempt petition."
The top court will continue to hear, on October 7, the petitions challenging the Centre's notification to implement OBC, and EWS quota in NEET-AIQ.
To read the court order, click on the link below.