Recently a news has been doing rounds that the Yogi Adityanath led state government has announced that it was doing away with caste based reservations in private Medical and Dental colleges of Uttar Pradesh. Some hailed it as progressive step that guards rights of private institutes, others found it an attack on the reservation policy.
Things were further muddled by this vague tweet by India Today, which suggested as if reservations in private medical and dental colleges were being removed nationwide:
BJP government decides to end reservation for OBCs, SCs and STs in private medical and dental colleges.
— IndiaTodayFLASH (@IndiaTodayFLASH) April 13, 2017
Reservation policy has always been a delicate issue and all political parties claim to be in its favour. BJP too has clarified many times, including through statements made by top leaders such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, that reservation policy was here to stay. So is there a re-think over reservation policy vis a vis private bodies?
Apparently not. It turns out that reservations in private medical and dental colleges may never have existed in the first place. Latest media reports quote the Director General of Medical Education, who claimed that the Yogi government had made no changes to the existing policy, and that there was no provision for reservations for any caste or community in the private colleges even earlier.
The concerned government order was issued on 10th March, when the Samajwadi Party government led by Akhilesh Yadav was in office, and it contained admission policy on the basis of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), in which the Clause 7 stated that in the private medical and dental colleges there won’t be any provision of reservation for students belonging to the SC, ST and OBC categories.
To understand the issue better, we need to get a bit of historical context. In 2006, an ordinance was passed by the then state government led by Mulayam Singh Yadav that had ordered reservations in private educational institutes. However, that order was struck down in 2011 by the Allahabad High Court, which ruled that unaided private educational institutes were not bound to follow the reservation rules as it would violate the basic structure of the constitution of India.
In October 2015, the Uttar Pradesh State Backward Class Commission (UPSBCC) had requested the then Akhilesh government implement reservation for OBC students in private medical colleges. This further confirms that private medical colleges had no reservation policy until recently. These two incidents corroborate the latest news reports quoting government officials that there was no reservation policy in private medical and dental colleges to begin with.
Question then arises as to what was then the need for that March 10 order by the Akhilesh government? A possible explanation to this might be the fact that the admission to these medical colleges would be based on the NEET score for the first time and not based on the UP-CPMT exam, which used to be conducted by the state. So maybe as there was a change in the procedure, the state government had to frame a new admission policy which was based on NEET, in which the existing clause of no-reservation in private colleges might have been added.
The media houses though after reading the 10th March order might have found that particular clause ‘interesting’ and hastily concluded that reservation in private institution was abolished, triggering speculations and sensationalist headlines.