Supreme Court Upholds Manipur High Court's Decision on Reservation Policy For Manipur University, A Central Education Institution
A two-judge bench of Justice L. Nageshwara Rao and Justice Hima Kohli has upheld the judgment of Manipur High Court and endorsed the view taken by the Single Judge that Manipur University is required to follow the reservation which is in consonance of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 for the purposes of admission in the University after the amendment of the act. In this context, the Court observed -
"After amendment of the Reservation Act, the respondent No. 1 – University had to follow the reservation norms of 2% for SC candidates, 31% for ST candidates and 17% for OBC candidates which is in consonance with the second proviso to Section 3 of the Reservation Act inserted by virtue of the Amendment Act."
Counsel Ms. Punam Kumari appeared for the Appellants, ASG Mr. Sanjay Jain appeared for Respondent No. 5- Union of India, Counsel Mr. Ashutosh Dubey appeared for Respondent No. 7 - ST candidate, and Counsel Mr. Shivendra Dwivedi appeared Respondents 8, 9, and 10 before the Court.
Respondent No. 1 - Manipur University became a Central University in 2005 and the Reservation Act was notified in 2007 which prescribed the reservation of seats in the manner that 15 percent seats shall be reserved for SCs, 7.5 percent shall be reserved for STs and 27 percent shall be reserved for OBCs. In 2012 when the statute was amended the University promulgated Ordinance 5.2 which talked about the rules relating to admission to the University and Ordinance 5.4 which dealt with the reservation of Seats and other special provisions for admission to the University in the year 2014.
The University issued a prospectus for the academic year 2014-15 in which it stated that the seats shall be reserved as the norms of the Government of India but in a press release, the University clarified that for the admissions for the year 2014-15 the reservations shall be provided as 2 percent for the Scheduled Caste, 31 percent for the Scheduled Tribes and 17 percent for the Other Backward Classes.
Aggrieved by the denial of the admissions, the Appellants who belonged to the SC category questioned the purported reduction of the quota. The Manipur High Court disposed of the matter with an order that the percentage of reservation for SC and ST candidates as was applied to the University prior to the commencement of the Act which would be adopted for the determination of the percentage of reservation for the reserved categories in question.
Further, the HC observed that the percentage of reservation for the students belonging to the SC, ST, and OBC categories in the University, would be 2%, 31%, and 17% respectively for admission to various courses.
Aggrieved, an appeal was filed before the Manipur High Court but due to the paucity of judges the recourse of transfer was taken, and the matter was transferred to the division bench of the Meghalaya High Court which remanded the matter back to the Single Judge Bench of Manipur High court for consideration afresh.
The Apex Court while adjudicating the matter opined, "The underlying intent of the Amendment Act was to secure a particular percentage of seats through reservation for a set of candidates and leave some space for capping of seats for OBC candidates, depending on the circumstances contemplated in Clauses (a) and (b) of the second proviso to the amended Section 3."
The Supreme Court also observed, "To our mind, the learned Single Judge is perfectly right in making the observation that the formulae for fixing the percentage of reservation for the SC and ST candidates and for determining the percentage of seats to be reserved for OBC candidates under the second proviso of Section 3, ought to be gathered from the same source and any other interpretation would lead to uncertainty"
While dismissing the appeal the Apex Court held, "We make it clear that the general rules of reservation have been encapsulated in Clauses (i), (ii) and (iii) of Section 3 of the Parent Act. But when it comes to CEIs established in States falling under the definition of "Specified north eastern region", categorized in Section 2(ia) introduced by the Amendment Act, the two new provisos appended to Section 3 would govern the norms of reservation which prescribes a different criteria, vis-à-vis the main provision and would apply irrespective of whether they are situated in areas covered by the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution or not."