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Minor A. Peeriakaruppan and Sobha Joseph Versus State of Tamil Nadu and Ors.

1970 (9) TMI 112 - SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

W.P. Nos. 285 and 314 of 1970 - Dated:- 23-9-1970 - A.N. Grover, J.C. Shah and K.S. Hegde For the State of Tamil Nadu: S. Govind Swaminathan, Advocate-General M.K. Ramamurthi and Vineet Kumar, Advs JUDGMENT K.S. Hegde, J. 1. In these two petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution the petitioners who unsuccessfully sought admission to certain Medical Colleges in the State of Tamil Nadu have asked for a writ of mandamus to direct the State of Tamil Nadu to allot to each one of them a seat in o .....

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l number of medical seats available in the Government Colleges for 1st year of M.B.B.S., course in the State of Tamil Nadu are 1125. We understand that for these seats nearly 7,000 students applied for admission. 3. In the previous years except in the year 1967-68, selection of candidates for admission to the 1st year M.B.B.S. course was done on State wise basis. In the year 1967-68, the seats were distributed on district wise basis but that scheme was held to be invalid by this Court in Minor P .....

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the State. In respect of each one of the units a separate selection committee was constituted. The intending applicants were asked to apply to any one of the committees but they were advised to apply to the committee nearest to their place of residence as far as possible. They were told that if they applied to more than one committee their applications will be forwarded by the Government to only one of the committees. 4. A few seats out of the 1125 seats were reserved for certain special categor .....

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Grades A to D. For the purpose of selection to first year M.B.B.S., course only marks obtained in the optional subjects were taken into consideration. Selection to the seats with which we are concerned in these petitions is confined to students who have taken in their Pre-University examination Physics, Chemistry and Biology as their optional subjects though each of these subjects carried a maximum of 100 marks thus a total of 300 marks, for the purpose of selection to the first year M.B.B.S. co .....

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led for interview by the selection committees. Selection committees were authorised to give a maximum of 75 marks at the interview. The selection committees were asked to award these marks on the basis of following tests. (1) Sports or National Cadet Corps activities; (2) Extra Curricular special services; (3) General physical condition and endurance; (4) General ability, and (5) Aptitude. 6. The selection committees were directed to prepare a gradation list on the basis of the total marks obtai .....

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extracurricular activities. He was a N.C.C. Cadet and passed creditably the 'A' certificate examination. He had also obtained certificate in boxing. He had joined the correspondence course conducted by the Voice Prophecy Institute, New Delhi and obtained a certificate in Health and Hygiene. After having passed his Anglo Indian High School examination creditably he joined Madurai college, in the Pre-University course taking Physics, Chemistry and Biology as his science subjects. In that c .....

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ade D plus (85 to 99 per cent) in Chemistry and D (75 to 85) per cent in Biology. The petitioner also had a brilliant career throughout in the High School classes as well as in the college class. She secured a merit card for the highest distinction consecutively for the years 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68 in Standards 8 to 10 of St. Joseph's Convent, Nagercoil. In the S.S.L.C. examination held in March, 1969 she secured 456 marks out of 600. She obtained distinction in extracurricular activit .....

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of the Constitution inasmuch as the same places the applicants of some of the units in a better position than those who applied to other units. It was alleged that the ratio between applicants and number of seats in the Coimbatore unit was 1 : 13; in Tirunelveli 1 : 10; in Chingleput 1 : 6; in the Madras 1 : 5 1/2; in Thanjavur 1 : 6 and in Madurai 1 : 7 1/2. It was further alleged that several applicants who secured lesser marks than the petitioners before this Court were selected merely becaus .....

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and downgrade those who had secured excellent marks in their Pre-University examination. It was said that a perusal of the marks list would show that the whole selection was a manipulation. The applicants who had failed more than once and ultimately secured bare second class were selected while the first rate applicants who had secured first class with high marks were rejected. It was urged on their behalf that even the students who get the minimum marks could be pulled up by the selection commi .....

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ct such of them in whom the Government was not interested. 10. It was also urged that no guidelines were provided for awarding marks at the interview and therefore the power conferred on the selection committee is an arbitrary power which is capable of being misused and in fact has been misused. It was contended that the list of backward classes provided to the committee was solely made on the basis of caste and as such that list did not conform to the requirements of Article 15(4) of the Consti .....

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ation against some of the applicants. In Rajendran's case [1968]2SCR786 . this Court ruled that the district wise distribution of available seats is violative of Article 15 of the Constitution. But it was contended on behalf of the State that the unit wise distribution of seats was adopted for administrative convenience. It was said that it was not possible for one selection committee to interview all the applicants. Therefore several committees had to be constituted. In the past when applic .....

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e wise selection the standard adopted by various committees differed, would continue even when selections are made by several committees in a unit wise selection. Whether the selection is made by selection committees on State wise basis or unit wise basis, the standard adopted by various committees is bound to vary. Hence in principle it makes no difference. 12. Now coming to the question of delay, we see no reason why there should be any delay in preparing a consolidated list. At any rate the d .....

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. The complaint of the petitioners is that unit wise distribution of seats is but a different manifestation of the district wise distribution sought in 1967-68 has some force though on the material on record we will not be justified in saying that the unit wise distribution was done for collateral purposes. Suffice it to say that the unit wise distribution of seats is violative of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution. The fact that an applicant is free to apply to any one unit does not take th .....

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he first impression need not necessarily be the best impression. But under the existing conditions in this country we are unable to accede to the contention of the petitioners that the system of interview, as in vogue in this country is so defective as to make it useless. It is true that various researches conducted in other countries particularly in U.S.A. show that there is possibility of serious errors creeping in interviews made on haphazard basis. C.W. Valentine on "Psychology and its .....

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s are conducted by impartial and competent persons on scientific lines very many uncertain factors like the initial nervousness on the part of some candidates, the mood in which the interviewer happens to be and the odd questions that may be put to the persons interviewed may all go to affect the result of the interview. But as observed by this Court in R. Chitralekha and Anr. v. State of Mysore and Ors. [1964]6SCR368 . In the field of education there are divergent views as regards the mode of t .....

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tting marks at interviews, there can equally be manipulation in the matter of awarding marks in the written examination. In the ultimate analysis, whatever method is adopted its success depends on the moral standards of the members constituting the selection committee and their sense of objectivity and devotion to duty. This criticism is more a reflection on the examiners than on the system itself. The scheme of selection, however, perfect it may be on paper, may be abused in practice. That it i .....

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or interview or that there was any arbitrary exercise of power. It was urged on behalf of the petitioners that the interview marks were allotted on collateral considerations. We are told that the selection committees were tools in the hands of the Government and the Government manipulated the marks in such a way as to facilitate the selection of those students in whom the members of the party in power were interested. These allegations were denied by the respondents. While elaborating their argu .....

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equired for selection. While there is some basis for these criticisms there is not sufficient material before us from which we could conclude that there was any manipulation in preparing the gradation list. It is true that numerous students whose performance in the University examination was none too satisfactory nor their past records creditable had secured very high marks at the interview. It is also true that a large number of students who had secured very high marks in the University examina .....

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if such persons take to manipulation of marks. Hence we cannot accept the contention that the interview marks were manipulated either by the Government or by the selection committees. 16. It was next urged that no objective criterion was fixed for interview. We are unable to accept this contention as well. The selectors were asked to interview candidates on the basis of the five criteria prescribed to which we have made reference earlier. Those tests are sufficiently objective in character. Simi .....

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rks were placed at the disposal of the selection committee and from out of those the committee could award marks according to its sweet will and pleasure. Such a power it was said is an arbitrary power. We were told that the entire 75 marks could have been given to a candidate even if he satisfied only one out of the five criterion prescribed. It is true that the rule did not prescribe separate marks for separate heads. But that in our opinion did not permit the selection committee to allot mark .....

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before the Mysore High Court in D.G. Viswanath v. Chief Secretary of Mysore and Ors. A.I.R. 1964 Mys. 132. Therein the court observed thus : It is true that Annexure IV does not specifically mention the marks allotted for each head. But from that circumstance it cannot be held that the Government had conferred an unguided power on the Committees. In the absence of specific allocation of marks for each head, it must be presumed that the Government considered that each of the heads mentioned in A .....

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ason that the selection committee took into consideration irrelevant matters and at the same time failed to take into consideration matters required to be taken into consideration. In the counter-affidavit filed by the Chairman of the selection committee it was averred that in allotting interview marks the committee took into consideration qualities such as pleasant personality, quick thinking etc. One of the extra-curricular activities that the committee was required to take into consideration .....

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medical examination. It was in the very nature of things not possible for the selection committee though composed of eminent doctors to find out the physical condition and endurance by a mere look at the candidate. It is clear from the affidavit filed on behalf of the selection committees that at the time of interview much attention had not been given to the general ability which test include past performance of the applicants and the varied interest taken by them. 20. From the facts placed bef .....

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selection the backward classes were not sub-divided into backward classes and more backward classes. What had happened is that the list of backward classes supplied to the selection committee showed that some of the communities are more backward than others but that list was prepared for the purpose of fee concession. For the purpose of the present selection all the classes shown therein were treated as backward classes. 22. There is no basis for the contention that the reservation made for back .....

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historical reasons should not be considered as fundamental rights. Nation's interest will be best served-taking a long range view-if the backward classes are helped to march forward and take their place in line with the advanced sections of the people. That is why in Balaji's case (1963) Supp. 1 S.C.R. 438. this Court held that the total of reservations for backward classes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes should not ordinarily exceed 50% of the available seats. In the present case .....

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in ascertaining a class for the purpose of Article 15(4), a class cannot be constituted solely on the basis of caste. Gajendragadkar J. (as he then was) speaking for the Court observed : That though castes in relation to Hindus may be a relevant factor to consider in determining the social backwardness of groups or classes of citizens it cannot be made the sole or the dominant test in that behalf. Social backwardness is on the ultimate analysis the result of poverty, to a very large extent. The .....

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eiterated that the caste is a relevant circumstance in ascertaining the backwardness of a class. Further it was observed therein : While this Court has not excluded caste from ascertaining the backwardness of a class of citizens, it has not made it one of the compelling circumstances affording a basis for the ascertainment of backwardness of a class. To put it differently the authority concerned may take caste into consideration in ascertaining the backwardness of a group of persons; but, if it .....

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attributes such as status, rank, occupation, residence in a locality, race, religion and the like. In determining whether a particular section forms a class, caste cannot be excluded altogether. But in the determination of a class a test solely based upon the caste or community cannot also be accepted. 26. A caste has always been recognised as a class. In construing the expression "classes of His Majesty's subjects" found in Section 153-A of the Indian Penal Code Wassoodew J. obse .....

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ngth so large as could be grouped in a single homogeneous community. 27. In Paragraph 10, Chapter V of the Backward Classes Commission's Report, it is observed : We tried to avoid caste but we find it difficult to ignore caste in the present prevailing conditions. We wish it were easy to dissociate caste from social backwardness at the present juncture. In modern times anybody can take to any profession. The Brahman taking to tailoring, does not become a tailor by caste, nor is his social st .....

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ragraph 13, the committee concludes with following observations : All this goes to prove that social backwardness is mainly based on racial, tribal, caste and denominational differences. 30. The validity of the impugned list of backward classes came up for consideration before this Court in Rajendran's case [1968]2SCR786 . and this is what this Court observed therein : The contention is that the list of socially and educationally backward classes for whom reservation is made under Rule 5 is .....

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whole is socially and educationally backward, reservation can be made in favour of such a caste on the ground that it is a socially and educationally backward class of citizens within the meaning of Article 15(4). 31. Rajendran's case [1968]2SCR786 . is an authority for the proposition that the classification of backward classes on the basis of castes is within the purview of Article 15(4) if those castes are shown to be socially and educationally backward. No further material has been plac .....

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at once a class is considered as a backward class it should continue to be backward class for all times. Such an approach would defeat the very purpose of the reservation because once a class reaches a stage of progress which some modern writers call as take off stage then competition is necessary for their future progress. The Government should always keep under review the question of reservation of seats and only the classes which are really socially and educationally backward should be allowe .....

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ns cannot be held to have been made validly inasmuch as the seats were distributed on unit wise basis and further that the interviews were not held in accordance with the rules. But despite coming to that conclusion we are unable to set aside the selections already made. The selected candidates have not been made parties to these petitions. They have already joined the course and are undergoing training. Their selection cannot be set aside without giving them an opportunity to put forward their .....

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