(Eds: Adds CM's quote, opp reax) Chennai, Oct 29 (PTI) The Tamil Nadu government on Thursday issued an order notifying 7.5 per cent quota for students of state-run schools in admission to undergraduate medical courses from the current 2020-21 academic year.
Since the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) results have now been declared and the admission process has started, there is an 'urgency' to decide on this issue, the Government Order (G.O) said.
The move came as a bill passed by the state assembly last month envisaging the horizontal reservation is awaiting assent from Governor Banwarilal Purohit.
As per the G.O, 7.5 per cent of seats shall be set apart on a preferential basis to government school students qualifying in NEET, in admissions to MBBS, BDS, BSMS, BAMS, BUMS, and BHMS from the academic year 2020-21.
By resorting to the executive route for implementing the quota, the AIADMK government has sought to take the wind out of the sails of opposition DMK which has been upping the ante on the issue and had staged protests demanding immediate implementation of the reservation.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami, in a tweet, said the order was issued to protect social justice and considering the welfare of government school students.
DMK president M K Stalin said the G.O is a 'welcome' move and claimed the continuous protests and the pressure exerted by his party was behind the government order.
'If the Tamil Nadu government has powers to issue the G.O, why should it adopt a bill and send it for Governor's assent?' he asked.
The government must immediately announce the dates for medical counselling and implement the reservation from this year onwards, Stalin said and wanted the government to be vigilant to ensure that the quota granted through a G.O was not 'affected' in any way.
Parties including the CPI (M), an ally of the DMK, welcomed the order.
The ruling AIADMK's ally, PMK, however, wondered if the order would stand judicial scrutiny since a bill in this regard was pending clearance by the Governor.
It wanted 'legal protection' for the 7.5 per cent quota and urged Purohit to clear the TN Admission to Undergraduate Courses in Medicine, Dentistry, Indian Medicine and Homeopathy on preferential basis to the students of the Government Schools Bill 2020, passed by the assembly last month.
The implementation of horizontal reservation, applicable to students who studied in government schools from class 6 to 12, became crucial for the ruling party as the issue became a focal point in the state, where assembly elections are due during April-May next year.
Though a delegation of Ministers had requested Purohit to clear the bill soon, he had said that it may require three to four weeks for him to examine it.
Almost all political parties in the state, including the BJP, have urged the Governor to clear the bill.
Days ago, Stalin, leading a demonstration seeking the governor's nod for the bill, had said his party's protests would continue till the students got the reservation.
Attacking Chief Minister K Palaniswami, he had also asked if there was justification for him to occupy the position without getting the quota bill cleared.
Hitting back, Palaniswami had accused the DMK leader of taking up the issue in an attempt to create an 'illusion' that he (Stalin) was responsible for a possible approval by Purohit on the matter besides seeking political mileage.
The G.O. issued by the Health and Family Welfare department said since the power to issue executive directions under Article 162 of the Constitution is co-extensive with the legislative powers, pending the decision of the Governor, the government has taken a policy decision to provide reservation.
The 7.5 per cent quota shall be provided in each category of vertical reservation followed in Tamil Nadu within the 69 per cent reservation.
The setting apart of seats on a preferential basis is applicable to state quota seats in all government medical and dental colleges and all courses for which NEET has been prescribed as an eligibility criteria.
It would be applicable also to seats allotted by the state government in self-financing medical and dental colleges, minority and non-minority (institutions) and under all disciplines, the G.O said.
The state-run school students are also entitled to compete for government seats, other than the 7.5 per cent, along with students who studied in private schools.
The bill was passed in the assembly on September 15 and sent to the Governor for his assent.
The quota initiative was based on the recommendations of a committee, headed by retired Judge of Madras High Court Justice Kalayarasan and it included experts. PTI VGN VS VS