In a judgment that could not have come at a better time than the election season, the Madras High Court on Wednesday criticised political parties, which claim to be championing the cause of social justice, to have overlooked the fact that not even a single Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidate had been appointed as a faculty either in Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University or in any of the Government law colleges in the State since Independence.
Justice S.M. Subramaniam said: “Political parties across the country claim that they are the messiah for the poor, downtrodden and the depressed class. Though 71 years have lapsed since Independence and several parties ruled Tamil Nadu, not even one Scheduled Tribe candidate is appointed as Law Professor despite the fact that the elected governments were interested in naming the law university and other institutions after Dr. B.R.Ambedkar.”
Blaming improper implementation of the quota norm, the judge said the Law Minister should take appropriate action. He impressed upon the need to review the 200-point roster system after taking into account the hardship caused to the oppressed classes due to its wrong implementation.
Allowing two writ petitions seeking reservation for ST candidates in appointment of Assistant Professors in Government law colleges, the judge said, Section 27 of the Tamil Nadu Government Servants (Conditions of Service) Act of 2016 provides for reservations in appointments.
As per the legal provision, a 200-point roster system should be followed and communal reservations should be provided on the basis of number of subjects offered by law colleges.
However, the Government colleges had unilaterally bifurcated many subjects without the approval of the Law University and thereby deprived the ST candidates of reservations. Such bifurcation of subjects had led to implementation of the 200-point roster system afresh and if such a practice was allowed to continue, “even after 100 years, a Scheduled Tribe candidate may not get an opportunity for appointment to the post of Assistant Professor in Law,” the judge said.
He went on to state: “Such a break of chain effected in implementation of 200 point roster system would cause prejudice to the interest of the Scheduled Tribe candidates as well to the other community candidates on some occasions. The chain of reactions would result in violation of the Constitutional mandates. The effect of division of subjects amounts to infringement of the rights of the candidates who are longing to secure public employment.”
Not finding anything wrong with division of subjects into labour law, administrative law, international law and constitutional law for academic development, the judge said, it should be made sure that such division does not end up diluting the rule of reservation. He directed the University Grants Commission to appoint a special inspection committee to identify the illegal and irregular appointments made so far by the Law University as well as its affiliated colleges.
All officials responsible for such appointments should be prosecuted besides being subjected to disciplinary proceedings, he ordered.