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Chinnathurai v. The Government of Tamilnadu - WRIT PETITION No.29050 of 2002  RD-TN 66 (31 January 2003)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS
THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE K.P.SIVASUBRAMANIAM
WRIT PETITION No.29050 of 2002
.. Petitioners -Vs-
1.The Government of Tamilnadu,
rep., by its Secretary to Higher
Education Department, Fort
2.The Director of Collegiate
Education, College Road,
3.The Regional Joint Director of
4.The Voorhees College,
rep., by its Principal,
Vellore. .. Respondents Writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for the issue of a Writ of Certiorarified Mandamus for the reasons stated therein.
For Petitioners : Mr.D.Hariparanthaman
For respondents-1-3 : Mr.S.P.Prabhakaran
For respondent-4 : Mr.T.R.Ravikumar
:O R D E R
The petitioners seek for Certiorarified Mandamus to call for the records relating to G.O.Ms.No.142 dated 28.5.2002 issued by the first respondent in so far as it seeks to fix the age limit at 21 years as on 1.7.2002 for admission into under urses in Arts and Science Colleges, to quash the same and to direct the respondents to admit the petitioners in B.A. Tamil Literature in the fourth respondent College for the year 2002-2003.
2. According to the first petitioner, he belongs to Adi Dravida Community. He hails from an interior draught prone Village in Dharmapuri District and his father is an agricultural coolie. He does not own any land or id not have any formal education and he also lost his mother at the age of seven. The second petitioner also belongs to Adi Dravida Community. He is also a coolie in Ambur bus stand. His father is also an illiterate and he has one brother and five sister s and all of them are illiterates. His brother studied up to eighth standard. But he had discontinued his studies and is now a bus stand coolie along with his father. He was stopped from going to school when he was in the sixth standard. Again, he joine d the school in the same class viz., sixth standard during 1992-93, due to the efforts of a good minded teacher. Again during 1995-96, when he was in ninth standard, he was forced to discontinue on account of poverty. He again joined the school during 19 96-97 in ninth standard with the help of his friends and teachers and passed to the tenth standard during 1997-98. Again due to poverty and family condition, he could not continue his studies and after a gap of one year, he joined plus one in 1999 and pa ssed plus two course in 2001. Thereafter, he could not continue the collegiate education as there was no one to help him to pursue his studies. However, due to the help of a college teacher, he applied for admission to B.A. Tamil Literature course commen cing from 2002-2003 in the fourth respondent College. He was taken to a college teacher by his friends, who was also a social worker for guidance. To apply for admission for B.A. Literature as he had studied special Tamil as an elective subject on plus t wo.
3. Though the petitioners were sent with admission cards and the first petitioner was selected in the open quota with rank No.2 and the second petitioner was selected under reserved quota in rank No.2 and when they were abou paying the necessary fees, the fourth respondent informed that the petitioners could not be admitted due to the impugned Government Order which prescribes an upper age limit of 21 years as on 1.7.2002.
4. The petitioners had written letters to SC/ST Commission, requesting them to help the petitioners to pursue their further studies by relaxing the upper age limit. The petitioners have completed their 22 years of age as on 1 contend that in the prospectus issued for the year 2002-2003 by the fourth respondent College, there was no mention of any upper age limit disqualifying admission into under graduate courses. It is further submitted that even the University to which the college was affiliated has not prescribed any upper age limit.
5. The petitioners further contend that during the previous years, the first respondent gave permission to colleges to admit students even above 21 years in referring the cases, irrespective of caste/religious considerations en discretion to relax the upper age limit. The fourth respondent college also took a decision during the previous years that students belonging to SC/ST Community would be given age relaxation up to five years. However, by virtue of the impugned Governm ent Order which prescribes 21 years as upper age limit, no discretion is given to admit even SC/ST students for relaxation of upper age limit even in the deserving cases.
6. I have heard the learned counsel for the petitioners who refers to paragraph No.6 of the annexure to G.O.Ms.No.199, Higher Education Department dated 19.6.2001, which is as follows:- "The upper age limit for admission to UG course will be 21 (twenty one) years as on 1st July 2001. However, in deserving cases, the admission committee may decide about the relaxation of upper age limit. However, a relaxation of 5 years is permitted for Physically Handicapped as per G.O.Ms.No.239 S.W. Dated 3.9.1993".
The said provision was applicable for the academic year 2001-2002. However, the present impugned Government Order in G.O.Ms.No.142, High Education Department dated 28.5.2002 has been issued and made applicable for the academic year 2002-2003. In the said Government Order, paragraph No.6 stands slightly modified and reads as follows:-
"The upper age limit for admission to UG course will be 21 (twenty one) years as on 1st July 2001. However, a relaxation of 5 years is permitted for Physically Handicapped as per G.O.Ms.No.239 S.W. Dated 3.9.1993".
7. As could be seen on a perusal of paragraph No.6 in both the above mentioned Government Orders, the discretion granted to the colleges to relax the age limit in deserving cases in the first order is not available in the impugned Go e relaxation is restricted only for physically and handicapped individuals and not in other cases.
8. Learned counsel for the petitioners would contend that while the Constitution of India envisages relaxation of basic qualifications and upper age limits in the case of SC/ST candidates, there is no justification for denyin idual seeks to be admitted in under graduate course. As a result of the impugned order, deserving candidates, such as the petitioners herein, who belong to depressed classes are denied admission into under graduate courses on the ground that they have co mpleted 21 years of age. The restriction thus placed under the impugned order is violative of constitutional mandates recognising the right of members belonging to SC/ST communities to receive certain relaxations considering the conditions in which they live.
9. I have also heard the learned Government Pleader.
10. The learned Government Pleader contends that the discretion to relax the age limit in deserving cases as contemplated during previous years such as G.O.Ms.No.199 dated 19.6.2001, was being misused by various colleges and relaxati criminately and for candidates who do not deserve such a relaxation. Therefore in order to ensure that there is no misuse of such discretion, in the impugned order, the relaxation has been specifically restricted to physically handicapped persons alone.
11. I have considered the submissions of both sides. It is a matter of common knowledge that in all matters relating to admission into educational institutions and recruitment into public services, the disadvantages and the social h y persons belonging SC/ST Communities for centuries have been appreciated and recognised by the Government and age relaxation have been given by three or five years in their favour. That being so, it does not stand to reason as to why there should be a d eparture from the well recognised policy and practice, which has been followed till now. The case of the petitioners herein are specimen cases which require to be considered with all the sympathy and indulgence having regard to their background as stated above. The change now effected in the impugned Government Order in so far as it results in affecting the candidates belonging to SC/ST community, has therefore to be held as unreasonable and unenforceable.
12. The contention of the learned Government Pleader that the terms of the old Government Order were being misused, cannot be a reason for completely doing away with the need to grant age relaxation in deserving cases. The de improper wording of paragraph No.6 of the earlier Government Order viz., G.O.Ms.No.199 dated 19.6.2001. It is true that there is no proper classification/enumeration of Sections/classes of candidates who would be eligible for such relaxation and an uppe r age limit in such cases. The vagueness and lack of proper guidelines in the said paragraph No.6 had probably resulted in the colleges granting discriminatory and undeserved relaxation. However, if the said provision was vague, then the provision should have been suitably amended so as to specifically and clearly enumerate the deserving categories such as SC/ST candidates, being granted relaxation subject to a maximum relaxation of three or five years. The intention to prevent a particular evil or misu se, cannot result in completely doing away with the requirement of relaxation in proper and deserving cases. It is for the Government to formulate a proper principles of relaxation by defining the categories in a proper manner so that there will not be a ny possibility of misuse and to ensure relaxation being granted only to deserving cases.
13. Therefore, I am inclined to hold that the present impugned Government Order cannot be allowed to be interpreted in such a manner so as to disentitle the SC/ST students to receive the benefit of age relaxation. However, th e entire paragraph No.6 of the impugned order as totally void. But at the same time, to the extent it excludes SC/ST candidates, it has to be held that the said paragraph would be inoperative.
14. Coming to the facts of the present case, as the statement of facts dealt with above would disclose, both of them have passed through severe conditions of atmosphere of illiteracy and poverty due to family and social circu eted 22 years as on 1.7.2002 and with great difficulty, they have managed to pass the plus two course. It is needless to mention that when relaxation of age is granted even for admission into professional courses and higher studies, it does not stand to reason that no such relaxation is contemplated in favour of SC/ST candidates for admission into Arts and Science Colleges for under graduate courses. Therefore the denial of admission to the petitioners has to be held as unreasonable and opposed to the b asic concept of granting relaxation in favour of SC/ST candidates.
15. However, this Court has to bear in mind that the petitioners have approached this Court only on 1.8.2002, by which time, admission into all the courses would have been completed and it would not also be possible for them to have mum attendance requirements. Therefore, there can be no direction to admit the petitioners for the academic year 2002-2003. Considering the reasons stated above, there will be a direction to the respondents to admit the petitioners in B.A. Tamil literatu re Course commencing from the year 2003-2004 and their claim shall not be barred on the ground that they have completed 21 years, and subject to the petitioners satisfying other basic qualifications, the respondents are directed to admit them into the co urse commencing from the academic year 2003-2004.
16. I am also inclined to direct the Government to suitably amend paragraph No.6 of the impugned order by evolving a proper policy of granting relaxation to deserving cases of SC/ST candidates, women, physically handicapped persons e prescribed limit of three or five years, as the Government may deem fit and proper, failing which the said paragraph is liable to be quashed. Subject to the above observations, the writ petition is allowed. No costs. Consequently, connected WPMP No.47347 of 2002 is closed. Index : Yes.
1.The Secretary to Higher
Government of Tamilnadu,
Fort St. George,
2.The Director of Collegiate
Education, College Road,
3.The Regional Joint Director of
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