Minister, A-G defend executive order on 7.5% quota Bill

Govt. fully empowered to act in this regard: Shanmugam

Law Minister C.Ve. Shanmugam on Friday defended the executive order issued to provide 7.5% horizontal reservation in medical admissions to NEET-qualified State government school students, when its related Bill was awaiting the Governor’s assent (since granted). He pointed out that the government order (G.O.) had “clearly stated” that “pending decision by the Governor”, it had taken certain “policy decisions”.

Mr. Shanmugam, who is considered a key player behind the move, told The Hindu that as powers of the executive are “co-extensive with those of the legislature” under Article 162 of the Constitution, the government was “fully empowered” to act in this regard.

The government had to issue the order in view of the “urgency” of the matter, as counselling would begin shortly for admissions to undergraduate medical courses under the State quota.

However, when the government proposed an ordinance in June, NEET had not even been held, he said.

When the Assembly adopted a Bill on the quota in mid-September, NEET had just been conducted, the Minister said.

Rationale behind G.O.

Explaining the rationale behind the executive order, Advocate-General Vijay Narayan said the Puducherry administration too had taken the route of executive order for 10% horizontal reservation. The most important feature of the Mandal Commission’s recommendations — 27% quota for Other Backward Classes in education and employment in Central government institutions — was carried out through an executive order, which, in the Centre’s parlance, was called “Office Memorandum”, he said.

As a piece of legislation becomes a law only after the Governor’s assent, the G.O. in question will be subsumed in law, naturally, once the approval comes. Even in the eventuality of his assent not being given, the G.O. will stand, as there is no law on the given subject, he added.

A senior government official said the general legal position concerning internal reservation, as was the case with this Bill, was that executive orders would do. The scheme of quota for ex-servicemen or differently-abled persons was implemented only through executive orders. At the same time, the idea behind enacting a law for government school students was to provide “greater strength” to the proposed quota scheme, he added. The official clarified that the G.O. was drafted in such a manner that the move was not in conflict with the position of the Governor.


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