Granting relief to two students belonging to the Backward Tribe category seeking to be considered for reservation in the NEET UG medical admissions, the Madras High Court directed the Union Territory of Puducherry to allow them to fill up the vacant seats in the Scheduled Tribe category.
The two seats under the Scheduled Tribe category which have been filled up by Scheduled Caste candidates can be moved over to the two vacant Scheduled Category candidates and I would direct the Union Territory of Puducherrry to fill up the vacancies by including the petitioners, as candidates under the category of Backward Tribes in the two vacancies under the Scheduled Tribe category for the M.B.B.S undergraduate course.
Justice CV Karthikeyan noted that it was the duty of the Government of Puducherry to ensure reservation to the Backward Tribe community which had been specifically created by the government. The judge also noted that the government could not merely state that the reservation was made according to the Medical Counselling Committee guidelines and thus the Backward Tribes could not be included as in reality the Medical Counselling Committee had no idea about the existence of the Backward Tribes in the Union Territory of Puducherry.
Naturally when a Scheduled Tribe seat falls vacant, it is only logical and lawful that the vacancies are filled by the Backward Tribe Community. The Government of Puducherry should have exercised its discretion in this regard.
In the present case, the petitioners, both of whom belonged to the Kattunayakan community had appeared for NEET Examinations and scored requisite marks for being considered for joining MBBS Course. The Kattunayakan community was included in the list of Backward Tribes by the Union Territory of Puducherry in the year 2010. This separate classification of “Backward Tribe” was created and were fitted in with the reservation quota earmarked for the Schedule Tribe category.
Subsequently, in 2019, through another notification, the Government moved Irular community from Backward Tribe to Scheduled Tribe category after observing that there was no specific reservation for the Schedule Tribes in the Union Territory of Puducherry and also considering the population of the Irular community.
However, the result of this classification was that the other Backward Tribe community was left high and dry as it effectively took away their reservation. They could not be included in either as Most Backward Community since they had sub classified from that and they could not be classified as Scheduled Tribes since they had not been moved over to Scheduled Tribes as the Irular community, and they cannot also be categorised as Scheduled Caste since they are a distinct category called Backward Tribes.
As a result, the petitioners could not fit in any of the reserved categories as the Medical Counselling Committee only recognised Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe community. The petitioners argued that in such a situation , the Government of Puducherry should have stepped in but the government had failed the petitioners.
The court noted that as per the internal reservation in the Union Territory, unfilled seats in the Scheduled Tribe category was allotted to Scheduled Caste category, failing which to the Unreserved category of Puducherry region and then to the Unreserved category of Union Territory of Puducherry. This leads to a situation where the Backward Tribe category remains unrecognised.
The question which begs an answer is where would they go, if their Government, namely, the Union Territory of Puducherrry, were to disown them and deny their lawful rights to seek a medical seat even if eligible. The only answer is that the Union Territory of Puducherrry has left them high and dry and has deserted. the court pointed out.
Thus, the court noted that the Union Territory of Puducherry had to exercise its discretion to extend reservation to its natives in accordance with the reservation policy.
Case Title: M Hemalatha v The National Medical Commission and others and Minor K Megatharani v The Union of India and others
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 511
Case No: W.P.Nos. 32941 & 33391 of 2022
Counsel for the Petitioners: Mr. V.Elangovan, Mr. T.M.Mano
Counsel for the respondents: Ms. Shubaharanjani Ananth Standing Counsel, Mr.V.Vasantha Kumar Additional Government Pleader (Puducherry), Mr. S.N. Parthasarathi Senior Central Government Standing Counsel, Mr.J.Kumaran Additional Government Pleader (Puducherry)