Reservation not a fundamental right, says SC on pleas implement OBC quota in TN medical colleges

“Right to reservation isn’t a fundamental right,” Supreme Court has said and refused to entertain pleas of various political parties challenging the Centre’s decision not to grant 50 per cent reservation to OBCs as per Tamil Nadu law in medical seats surrendered by the state in the All India Quota for undergraduate, postgraduate and dental courses in 2020-21.

A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, Krishna Murari, and S Ravindra Bhat asked lawyers for Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Vaiko, Anbumani Ramadoss, CPI (M), Tamil Nadu Congress Committee and CPI to approach the Madras High Court with their pleas.

“We see that all the political parties are interested in this case and have come together as one…” Justice Rao noted his surprise during the virtual court hearing. A lawyer for one of the petitioner parties said “this has happened before”. “In State of Tamil Nadu, it has never happened,” Justice Rao remarked.

Tamil Nadu government, represented by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, the ruling AIADMK party through advocate Balaji Srinivasan, Opposition DMK through senior advocate P. Wilson, Tamil Nadu Congress, CPI(M), etc, had filed separate petitions seeking the quota.

The bench, which held the hearing through video-conferencing, observed verbally that no case was made out for the petitioners to approach the top court directly under Article 32, a remedy available under the Indian Constitution if there is violation of a fundamental right.

Rao’s observation is a reiteration of an earlier verdict where the Supreme Court held that reservation cannot be claimed as a fundamental right.

The political parties accused the Centre of “violating the “right of the people of Tamil Nadu to have a fair education” by not implementing the 50% quota for Backward Classes and Most Backward Classes for the All India Quota seats in medicine and dental science courses — both undergraduate and postgraduate levels — offered by institutions within Tamil Nadu.