Bring wards of Defence personnel under reserved category for MBBS, BDS Admissions: HC tells State
Madurai: Setting aside a Government Order (GO) passed by the Tamil Nadu Health and Family Welfare Department, the Madras High Court has directed the state to include the wards of serving defence personnel under the reservation category for admission to UG Medical (MBBS/BDS) courses from this academic year.
The GO passed in 2018 omits wards of serving defence personnel from the eligibility quota.
Aggrieved by the same, an MBBS aspirant, D Kuralarasan, son of a Junior Commissioned Officer in the Indian army moved the High Court seeking direction to quash the state GO, citing a communication passed by the Ministry of Defence on November 30, 2017, reservation for wards of armed forces personnel for admission was prioritised under eight categories.
During the hearing on the case, the petitioner submitted that the ministry of defence, via a communication dated November 30, 2017, had set out the waterfall arrangement in a matter of reservations or preferences and according to it, the wards of serving personnel are included at the end of the priority list. However, the Tamil Nadu government passed a GO in June 2018 leaving out three categories, including wives and wards of serving personnel.
The counsel for the petitioner pointed out that a 1979 GO includes serving defence personnel too in the reservation category and there is nothing on record to indicate that this GO has been repealed.
In response, the state contended that the number of special categories under special reservation for MBBS/BDS course has been reduced to 4, namely, Physically Handicapped, Eminent Sportspersons and children of Freedom Fighters and children of Ex-servicemen. Though the number of seats reserved for children of Ex-servicemen was originally 2 for MBBS and 1 for BDS Course, this was enhanced from 2 to 5 in the year 2015 and further enhanced to 10 under the impugned Government Order.
It was submitted that since the petitioner is not falling under any of the priority categories, he will have to be considered only under the general category. “It is obvious that the writ petitioner is not eligible under the quota for children of Ex-servicemen as per the impugned Government Order,” the counsel of the state submitted.
After perusing all the submissions and contentions made from the bar before the Madurai bench of honourable Justice G R Swaminathan drew an example of Wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
“We all know that he is a Tamilian. Let us imagine that his daughter is an MBBS aspirant and wants to join one of the government medical colleges in Tamil Nadu. Can she avail the benefit of reservation policy meant for defence personnel?” the court asked and said, “The answer is No”
If on the other hand, after his return from Pakistan, had Abhinandan left defence service, as the daughter of an ex-serviceman, she would be entitled to the benefit of reservation.
Pointing out that the policy of the Government of Tamil Nadu is to extend the benefit of reservation in MBBS/BDS course not only to the children of ex/deceased Army personnel but also to the children of serving defence personnel, the bench stated that when the Government of Tamil Nadu is adopting a communication issued by the Ministry of Defence, it is obliged to state the reasons for retaining only six categories and omitting the remaining three set out therein.
The court stressed that a serviceman’s valour and sacrifice should be recognized and it asserted,
“More than anything else, the Government of India after a detailed consideration of the various parameters had laid down the 16 revised list of priorities. The serving personnel come under category VIII. When the impugned G.O. chooses to adopt categories I to VI, there is no reason as to why the categories VII to IX should be left out. The object is to accord reservation to the Defence category personnel. We have to recognize their valor and sacrifice. Of course, there can be a distinction between the wards of Ex-serviceman and the wards of serving personnel. The wards of Ex-serviceman deserve a better preferential treatment as they are out of service. That is why, the competent authority has accorded them priority No.VI while granting priority VIII to the wards of serving personnel. But then there is no justification for totally omitting the wards of serving personnel”
The bench observed,
“The wards of the serving personnel can claim the benefit of reservation only if there are surplus seats available after exhausting the claimants under the categories 1 to 6. If there are surplus seats and there are only 6 categories, then the surplus seats will go to the general category. Thus, by not including the wards of serving personnel, the policy of the Government to benefit the defence personnel will be defeated. Including the wards of serving personnel alone would ensure that the quota is filled up. Therefore, this Court comes to the conclusion that omission of categories 7 to 9 is clearly arbitrary and irrational. Anything that is arbitrary and irrational can only be said to be offending the mandate enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution of India.”
In its conclusion, the HC quashed the GO and allowed the appeal for the aspiring MBBS student. It stated,
“I hold that the impugned G.O. suffers from the vice of arbitrariness and is irrational and violates Article 14 of the Constitution of India to the extent it omits the wards of serving personnel. It is plainly unreasonable. G.O.(D)No.977, Health and Family Welfare (MCA-1) Department dated 01.06.2018 is quashed http://www.judis.nic.in 19 to the extent it omits the wards of serving personnel. Therefore, this Court directs the respondents 2 to 4 to include the wards of serving personnel under the reservation category in the prospectus of MBBS/BDS for ensuing years from the current academic year. The writ petition is allowed.”
Attached is the detailed judgment below: