Quota in super-specialty posts is Centre’s call: SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday put the ball back in the Centre's court on the contentious issue of factoring in reservation in appointments to faculty posts in All India Institute of Medical Sciences saying constitution benches of the court had repeatedly and concurrently warned against reservation at super-specialty level. 

A constitution bench comprising Justices H L Dattu, S S Nijjar, Ranjan Gogoi, M Y Eqbal and Vikramjit Sen in its clarification said, "It is for the Centre to take a decision whether there should be reservation in super-specialty posts." This will open the window for the government to provide reservation as a criteria for appointment to AIIMS faculty positions. 

The Centre had sought a review of the apex court's July 18, 2013 judgment which appeared to have blocked such reservation in AIIMS faculty posts. It had said, "There were certain services and posts where either on account of the nature of duties attached to them or the level in the hierarchy at which they stood, merit alone counts. In such, situations, it cannot be advised to provide for reservations." 

Appearing for the Centre, additional solicitors general L Nageswar Rao and K V Vishwanathan argued that the judgment in some parts appeared advisory yet in other parts assertive in its objection to reservation against faculty positions in AIIMS. 

The court, quoting from the Indira Sawhney verdict which had upheld 27% reservation for OBCs in central services, had last year said, "In certain services in respect of certain posts, application of rule of reservation may not be advisable in regard to various technical posts including posts in super-specialty in medicine, engineering and other scientific and technical posts." 

The Faculty Association of AIIMS and Resident Doctors Association, which had challenged the reservation scheme being applied to appointments in premier institutes faculty positions, had argued that that all these posts required qualification in a super-specialty course. 

After reiterating the caution and subscribing to the judicially settled view that there could be no reservation in the super-specialty posts, the bench said, "We impress upon the central and state governments to take appropriate steps in accordance with the views expressed in Indira Sawhney's case and in this case, as also the other decisions referred to above, keeping in mind the provisions of Article 335 of the Constitution." 

Both Rao and Vishwanathan were of the view that Indira Sawhney judgment did not restrain the government from providing reservation in super-specialty faculty posts. However, other SC judgments restrained the government from admitting students to super-specialty courses undertaken after post-graduation. 

The Centre said that it was for enforcing reservation in appointments to super-specialty faculty posts and argued that the finding linking mediocrity to reservation was erroneous. "It cannot be said that people belonging to backward classes are not intelligent and that the forward castes were its sole repository."

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