Delhi High Court: In a case wherein the appellant filed a writ petition seeking a declaration that the eligibility condition for admission to MBBS/BDS Courses of Faculty of Medical Sciences (‘FMSc’), University of Delhi (‘DU’), and Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, (‘GGSIPU’) were ultra vires insofar as they disentitled the appellant from being considered for admission under the category of Delhi Quota/Delhi Region Candidate, the Division Bench of Satish Chandra Sharma, C.J., and Sanjeev Narula, J.*, opined that the admission rules set forth by DU and GGSIPU, had the potential of excluding bona fide students who might have a legitimate claim as residents of Delhi. This was a matter of concern that merits attention. Thus, the Court directed the Government of Delhi to revisit the existing rules or consider drafting new rules on the eligibility criteria in admissions to educational institutions in respect of domicile/permanent residency status.
The appellant and his father were permanent residents of Delhi, but later, the family moved to Kolkata, and thus, the appellant completed his education from 9th to 12th standard in Kolkata. Thereafter, the appellant appeared for NEET-2023 examination, however, the appellant submitted that he was being unfairly and arbitrarily excluded from the category of “Delhi Quota”/“Delhi Region Candidate” by the admission rules set forth by DU and GGSIPU (‘impugned rules’). The prayer was declined by the Single Judge of this Court. Thus, the appellant filed an intra-court appeal, raising the same grievance and assailing the Single Judge’s decision. The appellant submitted that the Single Judge had erroneously construed the scope of Section 3(f) of the Delhi Professional Colleges or Institutions (Prohibition of Capitation Fee, Regulation of Admission, Fixation of Non-exploitative Fee and Other Measures to Ensure Equity and Excellence) Act, 2007 (‘DPCI Act’).
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court relied on Vished v. Directorate of Higher Education, 2012 SCC OnLine Del 4295 (‘Vished Case’), wherein the validity of the condition to be classified as “Delhi candidate” as per Section 3(f) of the DPCI Act fell for consideration and the Court had held that the eligibility condition for treating a candidate as a “Delhi candidate” was not arbitrary or unreasonable, thus, validating the provision of Section 3(f) of the DPCI Act.
The Court noted that GGSIPU, whose seat allocation rule was also contested in the present case, was explicitly governed by the DPCI Act. The Court opined that the validity of Section 3(f) of the DPCI Act was affirmed in Vished Case (supra), thus it underscored that both GGSIPU and DU were within their legal rights to establish such eligibility conditions. The Court further opined that the legislative prerogative to define eligibility conditions, as upheld in previous legal precedents, must take precedence. The existing framework provided avenues for the appellant to compete for admission, albeit in a limited capacity. While the appellant’s individual circumstances warrant understanding and consideration, they did not suffice to invalidate the impugned rules, which were designed to serve policy objectives and had been found to be legally tenable. Thus, the Court held that the challenge to the impugned rules was unsustainable.
The Court noted that the appellant’s grievance was focused on the eligibility criteria in the impugned rules which deprived him of the ability to qualify for the Delhi state quota owing to his education outside Delhi due to unforeseen circumstances, even though he possessed strong ties with Delhi and had pursued previous education for substantial number of years in the State. The Court opined that “striking down the impugned rules could have far-reaching consequences that extend beyond the immediate concerns of the appellant. Specifically, it would usher a surge of students studying in different corners of the country to vie for admission to medical courses under Delhi quota, over and above the all-India seats. This was because in such a scenario, the distinguishing criteria to categorize candidates as “Delhi Quota”/“Delhi Region Candidate” would be non-existent. Furthermore, viewed from another angle, the rules in-question confer advantages to candidates who had completed their 11th and/or 12th standard education in Delhi irrespective of their birthplace or permanent residency in the state of Delhi”. The Court thus observed that the “rules had multifaceted intentions and served multiple objectives”.
The Court opined that the impugned rules, as they stand, had the potential of excluding bona fide students who might have a legitimate claim as residents of Delhi. This was a matter of concern that merits attention. Thus, the Court directed the Government of Delhi to revisit the existing rules or consider drafting new rules on the eligibility criteria in admissions to educational institutions in respect of domicile/permanent residency status. Such revision/new rules should reflect the realities and complexities of life which often force students to leave their resident state on account of fortuitous circumstances. The guidelines/rules should determine the criteria for designating someone as a domicile or permanent resident for admissions to educational institutions and/or for granting suitable relaxation to genuine residents of Delhi who were rendered ineligible due to fortuitous circumstances.
The Court disposed of the appeal and observed that the deliberations on such matters were currently underway, and the Delhi Legislative Assembly was actively considering a proposal to amend the eligibility criteria for a “Delhi Candidate” in the DPCI Act, with the aim of incorporating the criteria of being a resident of Delhi.
[Ujjwal Shori v. University of Delhi, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 5948, decided on 12-09-2023]
*Judgment authored by: Justice Sanjeev Narula
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Appellant: Kavindra Solanki, Nitin Kumar, Advocates
For the Respondents: Anuj Aggarwal, ASC; Anurag Ahluwalia, CGSC; Tarveen Singh Nanda, GP; Ayushi Bansal, Yash Upadhyay, Santosh Kumar, Akshita Singh, Adhitya Kamani, Advocates