Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit has assented to a bill envisaging 7.5 per cent reservation to government school students who have cleared the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test in admission to undergraduate medical courses. A day after the state government took the executive route to implement the quota regime from the current 2020-21 academic year itself and issued a government order to facilitate it, the Raj Bhavan said “this is to inform the people of Tamil Nadu that the honourable Governor has given his assent to the bill.” The Governor sought legal opinion from the Solicitor General of India (SGI) on September 26 and the opinion was received on October 29, the release said.
“As soon as the opinion was received, honourable Governor has given assent to the Bill,” the statement said. Amid accusations that Purohit delayed clearing the quota bill, the Raj Bhavan, pointing out that the bill was approved soon after the receipt of legal opinion -that the Bill is in sync with Constitution- assumes significance.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami said efforts were afoot to implement the reservation from the current year. DMK president M K Stalin claimed Purohit gave his assent to the quota bill as he was left with no other choice and thanked him for giving his nod.
His party’s protest and the hope expressed by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court were behind Purohit’s “change of heart.” In a twitter post, Stalin said the approval came after 45 days and when the time for medical counselling was nearing and the Governor had to approve in view of such factors. Hearing a batch of public interest litigation petitions, a division bench had on Thursday hoped that the Governor would take a decision at the earliest.
BJP’s Khushbu Sundar said, “We deliver when we promise.” PMK chief S Ramadoss said Purohit’s consent was the victory of the people. The Raj Bhavan said Purohit sought to know if the proposed quota was in accordance with the Constitution and compatible with Articles 14 (Equality) and 15 (prohibition of discrimination).
The SGI, Tushar Mehta, in his opinion said ‘intelligible differentia’ would enablereservation for socially and educationally backward class, an affirmative action. The bill is in “consonance with the Constitution of India,” Mehta noted adding it is however subject to judicial review and also to other constitutional principles like those related to the upper limit to reserved seats.
The Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Courses in Medicine, Dentistry, Indian Medicine and Homeopathy on preferential basis to the students of Government Schools Bill 2020, was passed on September 15 in the Assembly and sent to Purohit for his approval. The ruling AIADMK sought expeditious clearance of the bill since the quota should be implemented from the current year and a group of Ministers too had called on Purohit at the Raj Bhavan recently.
Finally, the government issued an order on Thursday – pending assent of theGovernor for the bill, which showed the government’s intention to ensure its implementation from the current academic year. The DMK had targeted the Governor for ‘delay’ in clearing the bill and had days ago held a massive protest.
It had also hit out at the AIADMK regime for not pressuring Purohit to get the bill cleared. Tamil Nadu Assembly elections are due during April-May 2021.
BJP Tamil Nadu unit chief L Murugan had said Purohit should clear the bill immediately. The “time taken by him (to examine it) is enough,” Murugan had said.
The Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi too had alleged the BJP-led Centre was not interested in providing reservation to students from poor background..