New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday turned down a batch of petitions seeking OBC quota in Tamil Nadu's medical colleges, holding that reservation is not a fundamental right, as already laid down by it in February.
"Right to reservation is not a fundamental right. That's the law today," observed Justice L Nageswara Rao presiding over a 3-judge Bench, pointing out that not giving quota benefits, therefore, cannot be construed as a violation of the fundamental right.
The petitions were filed by the CPI, the DMK and some of its leaders asking for 50 per cent OBC reservation in seats, surrendered by Tamil Nadu in the All India Quota for under graduate, post graduate medical and dental courses in 2020-21. They said that in Tamil Nadu, there is 69 per cent reservation for OBCs, SCs and STs and within this, OBC reservations are about 50 per cent.
The petitions said 50 per cent of OBC candidates must get admissions in the medical colleges out of seats surrendered under the all India Quota, except for central government institutions. "Denial of admissions to OBC candidates is a violation of their fundamental right," said the pleas. But the Supreme Court remained unimpressed with such submissions, and questioned how a petition under Article 32 could be maintainable when there is no fundamental right to reservation benefits.
"Whose fundamental rights are being violated? Article 32 is available only for violation of fundamental rights. We assume you are all interested in fundamental rights of the citizens of Tamil Nadu. But right to reservation is not a fundamental right," observed the bench.
The Bench, however, allowed the petitioners to agitate before the Madras High Court. It was Justice Nageswara Rao, presiding over a Bench on February 7 with Justice Hemant Gupta, who had ruled that an individual cannot claim reservation as a fundamental right and the government is not bound to provide quota in promotion to Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribe employees. The Bench had then said: "In view of the law laid down by this court, there is no doubt that the state government is not bound to make reservations. There is no fundamental right which inheres in an individual to claim reservation in promotions."