SC quashes Madras HC direction on EWS quota in NEET AIQ

New Delhi:┬áThe Supreme Court on Friday set aside the Madras High Court’s observations that reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) in the NEET-All India Quota (AIQ) medical seats can be implemented only with the approval of top court’s Constitution bench.

A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and B.V. Nagarathna observed that the high court had made “unnecessary observations”. It noted that the high court was examining a contempt petition, which sought implementation of OBC reservation in NEET-AIQ, therefore observations on 10 percent EWS quota was transgression of its jurisdiction.

The Centre had moved the top court challenging the observations made by the Madras High Court. Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj, representing the Centre, contended that the high court should not have made the observation, while it was exercising its contempt jurisdiction.

The top court noted that after the high court found no contempt, it has gone into wider spectrum. “There the high court has really erred… when you are in contempt jurisdiction, you just need to see if the order has been complied or not,” it said.

The high court, through its August judgment, had dropped a contempt of court plea filed by the ruling DMK against Centre on implementing reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in AIQ medical college seats.

On Friday, DMK’s counsel submitted that the issue is “complicated”, and the Centre’s plea could be heard with other petitions challenging the EWS/OBC quota in the NEET-AIQ.

The high court had observed: “The additional reservation provided for economically weaker sections in the notification of July 29, 2021 cannot be permitted, except with the approval of the Supreme Court in such regard.” It had noted that the Constitution bench is examining the correctness of the 103rd Constitutional Amendment, which provided reservation. Centre had moved the top court aggrieved with this observation.

The Supreme Court, however, clarified it is not saying anything on the merits of the EWS quota in NEET-AIQ, and it is only setting aside high court’s observation, as it transgressed the limits of contempt jurisdiction.

“We are not expressing opinion on the merits of the case since the points will arise in a bunch of petitions pending adjudication,” the bench noted.

The top court will continue to hear, on October 7, the petitions challenging the Centre’s notification to implement OBC, and EWS quota in NEET-AIQ.