27 Feb 2022 11:25 AM GMT
The High Court of Madhya Pradesh recently granted stay against the policy of the State Government to increase the reservation for the OBC category from 14% to 27%, for admission in the All India Ayush Postgraduate Entrance Test, 2021. The division bench of Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice Manindar Singh Bhatti was essentially dealing with a writ petition filed by...
The High Court of Madhya Pradesh recently granted stay against the policy of the State Government to increase the reservation for the OBC category from 14% to 27%, for admission in the All India Ayush Postgraduate Entrance Test, 2021.
The division bench of Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice Manindar Singh Bhatti was essentially dealing with a writ petition filed by the Petitioner, questioning the validity of Section 4(2)(i)(a) and (b) of the Madhya Pradesh Lok Seva (Anusuchit Jatioyon, Anusuchit Janjatiyon Evam Anya PichhdaVargon to Arakshan) Adhiniyam 1994 for admission in the All India Ayush Postgraduate Entrance Test, 2021. The Petitioner, who was desirous to get admission in the said Entrance Test was further challenging the Gazette Notification, dated 8.03.2019.
The case of the Petitioner was that Section 4 of the Madhya Pradesh Lok Seva (Anusuchit Jatioyon, Anusuchit Janjatiyon Evam Anya PichhdaVargon to Arakshan) Sanshodhan Adhyadesh, 2019 (herein referred to as 'the Ordinance 2019'), which provided for reservation for Other Backward Class (OBC) to be increased from 14% to 27%, was in direct conflict with the decision of the Apex Court in Indra Sawhney & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.
Per contra, the State contended that where constitutional validity of a Statute is challenged, the Court refrain from passing an interim order. To substantiate the same while objecting the prayer for interim relief, the State relied upon the decision of the Supreme Court in Health for Millions v. Union of India & Ors.
The Court examined the jurisprudence laid out by the Apex Court with respect to the scope of interference to pass an interim order in matters where the constitutional validity of a Statute is concerned, and observed-
"…the picture which emerges out of the ratio laid down in the course of decision is to the effect that, firstly if the Statute pertains to economic reforms or is a fiscal statute or, is enacted in order to safeguard the health of public at large, the Court should be cautious while granting an interim order until and unless, it appears to the Court that the enactment in question, is ex facie unconstitutional."
The Court built on its abovementioned observation and opined that Article 226 of the Constitution does not stipulate that while passing an interim order in exercise of powers under the respective provision, it would require to assign reason therefor. It further held that-
"Thus, when at the very initial stage the Court takes cognizance of the matter and in order to protect the petitioner approaching the Court, passes an order granting interim relief, there is no requirement of law, that reason should be assigned, while passing an interim order. Thus, in a case where constitutional validity of the Statute is challenged, the Court while taking into consideration the impact of the Statute on public at large, as far as economic/fiscal affect of the same is concerned, may pass interim orders within the parameters as laid down by the Apex Court in Health for Millions (supra) as well as Bhavesh D. Parish and others (supra)."
Considering the case in hand, where the provision of reservation in excess of 50% was challenged, the Court noted that it has passed interim orders in a bunch of petitions to evolve a workable arrangement and to safeguard the larger public interest. It further observed that an interim order does not foreclose the option of final hearing because of lapse of time, during pendency of litigation.
The Court then described the conditions under which it can pass an interim order-
"Thus, while passing an interim order, the Court has to first satisfy itself, as regards the prima facie case, consideration of balance of convenience and also irreparable injury. Thus, the same amounts to stop-gap arrangement securing the interest of the parties in litigation before the Court. Therefore, assigning of reason while passing an interim order, is no at all necessary, when the same is being passed in exercise of Article 226 of the Constitution of India."
Regarding the scope of assigning reasons while passing an interim order, the Court placed its on on the decision of the Supreme Court in Neeharikia Infrastructure & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors., and noted-
"…it is crystal clear that only in exceptional cases, with caution and circumspection, the High Court has to ascribe brief reasons and hence, it is not necessary to assign reasons while passing an interim order in all cases, while dealing with a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India."
Collating its examination of the relevant legal provisions and judgments of the Apex Court, the Court concluded that the statute under challenge was not in sync with the decision of the Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney case. The Court, thus, as an interim measure, restricted the State from providing reservation of more than 14 % for candidates under the OBC category –
"Thus, from the conspectus of the aforesaid, it is luminescent that the Statute in question has been issued in contravention of the law laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney and others (supra). Therefore, while maintaining parity, as the interim order has already been passed in Writ Petition No.5901 of 2019 – Ashita Dubey vs. The State of Madhya Pradesh and other connected bunch of writ petitions, as an ad interim measure, it is directed, that the respondents shall not provide reservation of more than 14% for OBC category in admission made to the colleges on the strength of Ordinance 2019, which is subject-matter of challenge in the present writ petition."
The Court further directed that the matter be listed for hearing in due course, along with the other connected matters.
Case Title: Anamika Tomar v. State of Madhya Pradesh & Ors
Case No: WP No. 3833 OF 2022
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (MP) 48
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