Larger bench to decide the legality of domicile/residence-based reservation in admission to PG Medical Courses within the State Quota

Supreme Court: In an appeal seeking clarity on the issue of the legality and validity of domicile/residence-based reservation for admission to the Post Graduate Medical Courses (MD/MS Courses 2019) Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, a 2-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ has referred the said question to a larger bench. The bench, however, observed:

Prima facie, it appears that even if domicile/residence-based reservation in admission to PG Medical Courses is held permissible, the mode and modalities for its application would still require further examination because it remains questionable if such reservation could be applied by way of such stipulations, as made in the impugned Clause 2B of the prospectus in question.”

The Court was hearing the appeals against Punjab and Haryana High Court order dated 23.04.2019, wherein it was held that the provisions made by the Medical College in question in its prospectus were invalid, so far relating to the domicile/residence-based reservation as provided in UT Chandigarh Pool; and had struck down the same while directing that all the admissions made on the basis of such invalid reservation in the said Medical College be cancelled and fresh admission process for admission to the PG Medical Courses for the academic year 2019-20 be carried out on the basis of merit obtained by the candidates in National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test.

Before referring the issue to a larger bench, the Court noticed that 50% of the seats are assigned to the States/Union Territories as being the State Quota seats, hence, the generalised and blanket prohibition on domicile/residence-based reservation may not be workable in relation to the State Quota seats of PG Medical Courses. Considering that the peculiar feature in relation to the State Quota seats is that if some provision as regards domicile/residence-based reservation is not made, the only other method of filling up these State Quota seats would be by way of institutional preference, the Court noticed,

“This would effectively result in entire of the State Quota seats going to institutional preference alone. Now, if the entire State Quota seats are provided for institutional preference alone, the consequence would be that only the candidates of the medical institutions in the State/UT would be filling up the State Quota seats; and such a consequence may not be permissible at all.”

Having made the abovementioned observations, the Court referred the following questions to a larger bench,

  1. whether providing for domicile/residence-based reservation in admission to “PG Medical Courses” within the State Quota is constitutionally invalid and is impermissible?
  2. (a) If answer to the first question is in the negative and if domicile/residence-based reservation in admission to “PG Medical Courses” is permissible, what should be the extent and manner of providing such domicile/residence-based reservation for admission to “PG Medical Courses” within the State Quota seats?(b) Again, if domicile/residence-based reservation in admission to “PG Medical Courses” is permissible, considering that all the admissions are to be based on the merit and rank obtained in NEET, what should be the modality of providing such domicile/residence based reservation in relation to the State/UT having only one Medical College?
  1. If answer to the first question is in the affirmative and if domicile/residence-based reservation in admission to “PG Medical Courses” is impermissible, as to how the State Quota seats, other than the permissible institutional preference seats, are to be filled up?

[Dr. Tanvi Behl v. Shrey Goel, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1576, decided on 09.12.2019]

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