Jabalpur: In a setback to Kamal Nath-led Congress government, the Madhya Pradesh High Court on Tuesday stayed the hike in OBC quota from existing 14 per cent to 27 per cent while hearing a petition filed by three medical students.
A two-judge bench of Justices RS Jha and Sanjay Dwivedi ordered that the counselling for MBBS seats, which gets underway from March 25, would be undertaken as per the 14 per cent reservation granted to OBCs.
The high court has also served a notice to the state’s department of medical education, seeking its reply on the matter within a week’s time.
Referring to Supreme Court verdict that mandates that total percentage of reservation offered on the basis of caste can’t be more than 50%, Asita Dubey from Jabalpur, Richa Pandey and Sumna Singh from Bhopal, had filed the petition opposing the MP government’s move to hike OBC quota.
“We are consulting legal experts and would furnish our reply in the court on the given date,” CM Kamal Nath said in a statement.
He said that Tamil Nadu also offers reservation in excess of 50 per cent, and his government remains committed to increasing the OBC quota.
The Kamal Nath government through a gazette notification earlier this month had announced it will hike reservation for OBCs in the state to 27%, to bring it on a par with the quota offered by the central government.
The decision, taken a month before the Lok Sabha elections, was viewed as a ploy to woo the backward castes and dent the BJP’s combined OBC-upper caste vote bank in the state.
In accordance with the legal ceiling of 50 per cent reservation, Madhya Pradesh till now offers 16 per cent reservation to SCs, 20 per cent to STs and 14 per cent to OBCs.
While raising the reservation limit, the Congress government said that as OBCs comprise around 52% of the total population of the state, increasing their quota was necessary to safeguards interests of the community.
The decision to hike OBC quota was approved by Kamal Nath Cabinet on March 6.
BJP spokesperson Rajo Malviya, commenting on the HC verdict, slammed Kamal Nath government and said the Congress was cheating people. “Despite knowing that the matter would be challenged and stayed in the court, the state government had announced it to fool the public,” she added.
The Congress government is yet to implement 10 per cent quota offered to economically poor, which was introduced by the Narendra Modi government, and has formed a committee to look into the implementation.