The Supreme Court on Wednesday, while considering a petition challenging the SEBC reservations (i.e Reservation of 12% of Maratha community) in Medical and Dental PG admissions in the State of Maharashtra, issued notice, and also directed all the connected matters including the main challenge to SEBC Act to be listed on 7th July 2020 for final hearing.
The State of Maharashtra issued notice dated 13.04.2020 and has re-started the admission process to Medical and Dental PG courses for the academic year 2020-2021. Due to SEBC reservation prescribing 12% reservation to Maratha community in education, the meritorious students of open category are suffering in extreme as their chances of getting admission in Medical PG Course are minimised despite they having higher scores than others.
It was stated by the counsel for the Petitioners, Mr. Amit Anand Tiwari and Mr. Vivek Singh, that reservation in the higher education above 50% seats should not be allowed and is unconstitutional. Reservation in speciality and super speciality courses above 50% is against the law and the concept of merit and cannot be permitted.
The petitioners, who are MBBS doctors of State of Maharashtra and have cleared the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET- PG 2020) with high merit, have approached the Court against violation of their fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14,16, 19 of the Constitution of India.
It is stated that the application of SEBC reservations (i.e. Reservation of 12% 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% seats in PG admission as 74% of seats in the state are reserved. The reservation in State has seriously prejudiced the meritorious candidates in the open category and has jeopardised their future.
The challenge to SEBC reservation is pending hearing before the Apex Court and it appears that the disposal of the said SLP will take some time due to COVID-19 pandemic. In these exigencies, the petitioners are constrained to approach the Court on urgent basis for seeking an order to the effect that the SEBC reservation should not be made applicable to the admission to Post Graduate Medical & Dental Courses in the State of Maharashtra for the academic year 2020-2021.
"This Hon'ble 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 speciality 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. This Hon'ble Court observed that at the highest scales of speciality, the best skill or talent must be hand-picked by selection according to capability. Losing a potential great scientist or technologist would be a national loss. That is why the Court observed that the higher the level of education the lesser should be the reservation", it is advanced.
The plea asserts that the framers of our Constitution had never visualised the misuse of reservation at the hand of political parties to such an extent wherein the competitiveness of an open category student (general category) has been reduced only to 26% of seats in PG Medical courses.
It is pointed out that till 2018 the reservation in the State of Maharashtra was 52%. Thereafter, EWS reservation of 10% and Maratha reservation of 12% was added in 2019. It is 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 is submitted that 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% reservation policy of the state with legitimate expectation to compete under 48% seats in PG but are forced to compete only under 26% seats for PG admissions due to subsequent reservation policy.
"The application of the additional reservation is disadvantageous and should be made applicable to the students who have taken admission in MBBS in 2019 onward", it is sought.
The petitioners beg the Court to look into the precarious situation of the open category students whose rights under article 14, 16 & 19 are grossly violated and pray to safeguard the jeopardised future of the petitioners.
The State of Maharashtra notified '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' prescribing 16% reservation in education and Government Jobs for Maratha community.
It is narrated that several Writ Petitions had been filed in the Bombay High Court challenging the Constitutional Validity of Maharashtra State Reservation for 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 High Court vide Judgment dated 27/06/2019 upheld the provisions of Maharashtra State Reservation for 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 and recommended the quantum of 12% to be reserved for Marathas in education.
Pursuant to the aforesaid judgment, the SEBC act was amended and reservation for Maratha community in education was reduced from 16% to 12%. Thus the total reservation in education in State of Maharashtra is about 74% which comprises of:
(i) Schedule Caste-13%,
(ii) Schedule Tribe - 7%,
(iii) Other Backward Class - 19%,
(iv) Special Backward Class- 2%,
(v) Vimukta Jati- 3%,
(vi) Nomadic Tribes B – 2.5%,
(vii) Dhangar-(Nomadic Tribes C- 3.5%,
(viii) Vanjari-(Nomadic Tribes D – 2%,
(ix) Maratha-12% and
(x) Economically backward in the unreserved category-10%.
"This leaves 26% seats for open category candidates. The 74% reservation in the State of Maharashtra in Medical & Dental PG Courses is in violation of catena of judgments of this Hon'ble Court wherein it had been categorically held that there cannot be reservation at the highest levels of medical education, as excellence cannot be compromised to the detriment of the nation", the petitioners argue.
It is advanced that several Special Leave petitions were filed challenging the aforesaid judgment dated 27.06.2019 and the Supreme Court vide order dated 12.07.2019 and other connected petitions had passed the following order:
"Permission to file SLP is granted. Impleadment allowed. Issue notice. Issue notice on the prayer for interim relief also, returnable in two weeks. We have heard learned counsel for the parties, we make it clear that the action taken pursuant to the order of the High Court shall be subject to the result of the special leave petitions. However, we make it clear that the order of the High Court or the reservation in question shall not have any retrospective effect."
The petition contends that in the meanwhile, process of admission to Post Graduate Medical and Dental Courses i.e. NEET 50 % State Quota in State of
Maharashtra for the academic year 2020-2021 were underway and the first Selection List was to be published on 04.04.2020, when the counselling was postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak.
The plea avers that vide notice dated 13.04.2020 issued a revised schedule for admission where by the admission process to State Quota seats in Maharashtra has been started and the 1st selection list of State Quota would be released on 24/04/2020.
It is submitted that due to the discrimination made to the open category students by way of SEBC reservations, the merit would receive a set-back as the chance of open category student securing a seat in Post Graduate Medical admissions has been minimized to only 26% of seats.
The petition stated that since the SEBC Act is under challenge before the Apex Court and unless and until this Court sets aside this discriminatory reservation act, the open category students will continue to suffer.
Since the hearing in the SLP is not expected soon due to COVID-19 pandemic, it is prayed to the Court to direct the respondents that the provisions of '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' should not be made applicable to the admission to Post Graduate Medical & Dental Courses in the State of Maharashtra for the academic year 2020-2021.