2 Dec 2022 2:58 PM GMT
The Supreme Court on Friday allowed the Tamil Nadu government to reserve 50 per cent of super speciality seats available in the current academic year in government medical colleges for NEET-qualified in-service doctors in accordance with a 2020 government order, the validity of which is currently under challenge before the top court. The Bench, comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Vikram...
The Supreme Court on Friday allowed the Tamil Nadu government to reserve 50 per cent of super speciality seats available in the current academic year in government medical colleges for NEET-qualified in-service doctors in accordance with a 2020 government order, the validity of which is currently under challenge before the top court. The Bench, comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Vikram Nath, directed the state government to expeditiously complete the process of allocating seats as per the order within a period of 15 days, and then immediately furnish information regarding the seats that remained vacant to the Union of India, so that the latter could fill the vacancies on the basis of the all-India merit list.
On March 16, 2022, the top court had allowed 50% in-service quota for SS seats for the academic year 2021-22. The present Division Bench led by Justice Gavai was called on to declare that the state government was, therefore, at liberty to implement the prescribed quota for in-service candidates for "the current and all subsequent academic years" till the revocation, modification, or replacement of the government order, or a court order to the contrary. Further, the court was urged to enjoin the centre from "creating a hindrance" for the Tamil Nadu government while they moved ahead with implementing the contentious government order.
The Centre and the State opposed each other, with the Additional Advocate-General for the state of Tamil Nadu, Amit Anand Tiwari, vehemently defending the government order, and the Additional Solicitor-General for the Union of India, Aishwarya Bhati, remonstrating against the reservation policy. Senior Advocate P Wilson, appearing for in-service candidates, supported the State Government.
The Tamil Nadu government informed the Bench that earmarking 50 percent of the seats for in-service candidates "who were required to serve in rural areas" would ensure greater access to quality healthcare, especially for people living in far-flung corners of the state, and "strengthen its health infrastructure".
On the other hand, the Additional Solicitor-General emphasised that no such reservation policy was ever implemented for super speciality courses. "This is a very important issue for the nation," Bhati said, as she requested the court to hear the matter in its entirety and adjudicate it "on its merits" before issuing any directions. She also pointed out that the state government was unable to fill 90 out of the 210 seats reserved for in-service candidates in the previous year. "Super speciality seats of medical education are critical for the nation. This is creating a chaotic situation across the country. How can Tamil Nadu, with the maximum number of seats, be allowed the reserve half the seats?"
Justice Gavai, speaking for the Bench, dictated, "We appreciate the anxiety of the Additional Solicitor-General that the issue requires to be decided finally. However, insofar as the present academic year is concerned, we find the state needs to be permitted to fill in the seats on the basis of the government order."
In order to prevent reserved seats from lying vacant, the Bench also directed, "…the state government to fill in the seats reserved on the basis of the government order within a period of 15 days from today. On the 16th day from today, the state of Tamil Nadu will inform the Union of India with regard to all seats that remain unfilled from the in-service category. These seats can be filled by the Union of India on the basis of all-India merit list."
The Court also listed the main writ petition for hearing on February 14, 2023.
N. Karthikeyan & Ors. v. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors. [WP (C) No. 53/2022]
Click here to read/download the order