In a move that may restore some semblance of equality in the admissions for medical seats, the Madras High Court has scrapped the 85% quota allotted by the Tamil Nadu government for state board students.
After a mediocre show by state board students in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) 2017, the government had passed an order earmarking 85% of seats from the State quota to students of the state board in admissions for medical courses. The Health Minister further announced that the remaining 15% will be reserved for students from the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and other boards.
The government order was criticised by the Court while hearing the petition filed by the parent of a minor who has passed out of a CBSE school and is attempting to gain entry into a medical college. Justice Ravichandrababu, who was hearing the case, said, "There is no difficulty for this Court to come to the conclusion that the impugned reservation amounts to discrimination among equals and thus, it violates Article 14 of the constitution.
Article 14 grants every citizen of the country the right to equality.
The court further went on to rap the state government, by concluding that the move to bring in this quota is "an arbitrary exercise of power, that it is totally unreasonable, that, under the guise of level playing, it makes the equal unequal."
Justice Ravichandrababu noted that by indirectly meddling with the object and process of NEET, the state government was compromising on the merits of selection. He made it clear that the court was not against the promotion of interests of students from rural backgrounds, who studied in state board schools. "But when such promotion and upliftment of their interest are sought to be achieved through unlawful mean, more particularly, at the risk of grave discrimination among equals, the Court cannot be a mute spectator," he added.
The state government has now been directed to prepare a fresh merit list and conduct the counselling accordingly.