Civil society groups have pointed out that the requisite 27% reservation for OBCs has not been followed in the All India Quota.

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news Education Tuesday, June 02, 2020 - 09:30

Thousands of seats to medical courses have been denied to OBC candidates over the years by not implementing the requisite reservation, according to a complaint from the All India Federation of Other Backward Classes Employees’ Welfare Associations. A statement condemning the denial of admissions to students from the OBC category in the allocation of medical seats through NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test), has been signed by hundreds of people, including students, Bahujan activists and Members of Parliament.

Under the All India Quota (AIQ), 15% of seats in UG (undergraduate) courses, and 50 % of seats in PG (post-graduate) courses are surrendered by all medical colleges, both private and government, explains G Karunanidhy, General Secretary of the AIOBC Federation. Of these AIQ seats, while the reservation applicable to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates (15% and 7.5%) are applied to all the seats, in case of the OBC category, the requisite reservation of 27% is applied only to those seats that are pooled from central government-run medical colleges, according to the complaint filed by the Federation.

This has led to denial of thousands of seats in medical courses for OBC students, as the seats pooled from state-run colleges when added to AIQ, end up going to the General Category or Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) candidates, Karunanidhy explains. If these seats had remained with state-run colleges, the state government reservation policies would have been applied.

For instance, the Federation claims, in Tamil Nadu alone, there are 1,758 PG medical seats in total. Of these, 879, or 50% seats, will be pooled by the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) into the All India Quota, and none of them will be allotted to OBC candidates, if past years’ pattern continues.

“Had the seats remained in Tamil Nadu, as per their reservation policy, 440 seats would have gone to OBC students,” Karunanidhy wrote in a letter to Union Minister for Health Harsh Vardhan, as Tamil Nadu has 50% reservation for BC/MBC candidates.

According to data from the Annual Reports published by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in 2017-18, a total of 3,690 MBBS seats and 328 BDS seats were in the AIQ of UG seats. Of these, 68 MBBS seats (1.8%), and 10 BDS seats (3%), were allotted to OBC candidates (including OBC Physically Handicapped category), whereas seat allocations to SC and ST categories met the percentage of 15% and 7.5% respectively.

If 27% reservation was applied to the OBC category, 996 MBBS seats and 88 BDS seats would have gone to students from Other Backward Classes. With this, in UG courses alone, 1,006 seats were denied to OBC candidates, as per the Federation.

Similarly, in PG courses, of the 5,709 seats available under AIQ for medical stream (MD/MS), only 183 (3.2%) were allotted to OBC candidates. In the dental stream (MDS), 7 (3 %) out of 239 seats went to OBC candidates. This means that a total of 190 seats from the All India Quota of PG seats were filled by OBC candidates, whereas a 27% reservation would have meant 1,605 PG seats should’ve gone to OBC students.

In 2018-19, out of 4,390 UG seats (4,061 MBBS and 329 BDS), 76 were allotted to OBC candidates, whereas 27% reservation would have meant 1,185 seats for OBC students. In PG courses, out of 8,205 AIQ seats (7,972 MS/MD and 233 MDS), 237 seats were allotted to OBC candidates. Following the OBC quota of 27%, 2,215 of the total PG seats should have gone to OBC candidates.

This amounts to a total of 5,504 medical seats denied to OBC candidates over two years. While the data for the year 2019-20 is unavailable, Karunanidhy says that the numbers are likely to be similar.

For the year 2020, the Federation has claimed that nearly 8,800 seats are pooled from state government-run colleges. Karunanidhy says that repeated complaints to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have yielded no response. The only unsatisfactory response, he says, has been that the 27% reservation for OBCs is applied to the seats pooled from Central Educational Institutions as per the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006, while remaining silent about the seats pooled from state government-run colleges.

A petition in this regard is also pending before the Supreme Court. Karunanidhy points out that the Health Ministry has refrained from extending the 27% reservation to OBCs in the All India Quota seats drawn from state-run colleges. “By dragging this matter in court, the Health Ministry is openly allowing the General Category candidates to enjoy more than 3,000 seats of OBCs, which, otherwise, they are not entitled to,” Karunanidhy wrote in his complaint.

The National Commission for Backward Classes has taken cognisance of the complaint, and asked the Ministry of Health to respond to the allegations.

Meanwhile, the statement condemning the denial of OBC reservation over the years which is being circulated online, has put forth the following demands.

1. The seats taken from the private and state government colleges into the AIQ must be considered as the ones sponsored by the central government and these seats should be brought under the purview of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006. As mandated in the act, OBCs should be given 27% reservation in the AIQ from the academic year 2020-21.

2. The health ministry should publish year-wise details about the number of seats allocated to OBCs in the undergraduate and postgraduate medical courses since the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 act came into force.

3. The ministry should also compensate for all the seats the OBCs have lost so far by allocating extra seats to OBCs in the upcoming rounds.

While SC, ST and EWS reservation quotas are being met in the AIQ, denial of OBC reservations is a “blatant violation of the Indian Constitution”, the statement said.

Signatories of the statement include VCK MPs Thol Thirumavalavan and D Ravikumar, Congress MPs S Jothimani and Manickam Tagore and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, among others.