Narayanan backs relaxation for SCs/STs
By Our Staff Correspondent
BHOPAL, JUNE 12. The President, Mr. K.R. Narayanan, has supported the contention of the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr. Digvijay Singh, regarding the need for relaxation in the qualifying mark in entrance examinations for medical colleges in respect of candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. The President has written to Mr. Singh, saying he was in agreement with the point raised by him in an earlier letter regarding the need for lowering the qualifying mark for SC/ST candidates for admission to post-graduate medical courses. The President said he was taking up the matter with the Prime Minister.
Mr. Singh had written to the President as well as the Prime Minister in April, drawing attention to the ``anti- reservation attitude of bodies such as the Medical Council of India''. In his letter, he said that 16 per cent of the population of Madhya Pradesh consisted of the SCs and 20 per cent of the STs. Most of them were residents of non-urban areas that were yet to see the first rays of modern civilisation. These students, especially the ST candidates, might be having a higher level of intelligence and knowledge but they lacked modern competitive techniques and concepts.
Hence they were handicapped when compared to students from urban institutions. It was to meet this handicap that the framers of the Constitution and policy-makers had given them leverages such as reservation to balance social inequity. These included relaxations to qualify on the basis of marks obtained in competitive examinations for entrance to professional courses. Mr. Singh said the Constitution-makers had directed the States through Article 46 to protect the weaker sections, especially those belonging to the SCs and STs, from social injustices and all kinds of exploitation. This, read with Article 335, enjoined the lowering of standards of evaluations and relaxation in qualifying marks in entrance examinations. Even the Supreme Court had observed in P. Shrivastava's case (AIR 1999SC2894) that the ``disparity between marks fixed for the reserved and general category should not be big''.
However, the court had left it to expert bodies such as the Medical Council of India to determine what this difference should be. The Council in its first directions on August 17, 1999 had clarified that the percentage of qualifying marks for SC and ST candidates may be lowered by 10 per cent, up to 40 per cent of the total.
But unfortunately, Mr. Singh wrote, the Council had not only failed in complying with the Directive Principles enshrined in the Constitution but also fell prey to the ``anti-reservation forces'' in framing the Post-Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000, which stipulated that the minimum marks for admission to the courses should be 50 per cent. Consequently, most SC and ST candidates might not qualify for entrance to the post-graduate courses.