The Tripura High Court has held that if the seats for any particular reserved category are not filled up due to non-availability of sufficient number of eligible candidates in that particular category, it should not be filled up by applying the exchange method and offering those seats to the other reserved category, but instead by treating the seats to be unreserved seats and then filled up on the basis of merit.
The court was considering Writ petitions relating to admission process to the MBBS course in the Tripura Medical College and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Memorial Teaching Hospital. There were 25 seats reserved for ST candidates. Out of these, only 13 could be filled up and 12 seats are lying vacant. The issue was whether these 12 seats should be filled up by applying the exchange method from amongst the eligible SC candidates or should they be filled up only on the basis of merit.
The petitioners had placed reliance on sub-rule (8)(a) of Rule 8 Tripura Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Reservation Rules, 1992, to contend that “exchange method” can be applied to educational institutions as well. But the court found that the words “vacant seats” and the words “selecting authority” or “educational institutions” have not been used in the said rule and hence the rule can be read only in the context of filling up vacant posts in Government Service. We cannot insert the words “vacant seats in educational institutions” in sub-rule (8)(a), the court said.
It was contended that Section 5 Tripura Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Reservation Act, 1991, was brought in the year 2005 whereas sub-rule (8)(a) of Rule 8 was existing prior to that and, therefore, sub-rule (8)(a) of Rule 8 should be read in such a manner that it is consistent with Section 5. The court held “when the legislature introduced Section 5 and amended the Tripura Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Reservation Act, 1991 and brought in the concept of reservation for SC and ST in educational institutions, the legislature must have been aware what are the rules and accordingly some rules were amended. We also find that in the year 2007, there have been substantive amendments to the rule. Even Rule 8 was the subject matter of amendment and even after amendment in the year 2007, no mention of seats in educational institutions is there in sub-rule (8)(a) of Rule 8. “
Read the Judgment here.