Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: P.B.Suresh Kumar, J., held that the requirement for Medical students who had studied abroad to undergo CRRI for obtaining permanent registration under State Medical Register was inconsistent with prevailing provisions.

Background

The petitioner, an Indian citizen enrolled for obtaining medical qualification without obtaining Eligibility Certificate insisted in terms of Section 13(4B) of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, which she obtained later on in 2017. She graduated in 2019, thereupon, she underwent one year internship in the various teaching hospitals under the Dubai Health Authority.

The petitioner cleared the Screening Test in terms of Section 13(4A) of the IMC Act in order to become eligible to be enrolled in a State Medical Register in India as well and applied for permanent registration under State Medical Register. Her application for registration was rejected by the State Medical Council, the Council insisted on requirement of Compulsory Rotatory Residential Internship (CRRI) in any one of the medical institutions approved by the Medical Council of India for foreign medical graduates before granting permanent registration to them in terms of Ext.P21 decision taken by the State Medical Council on 20-10-2017 in order to ensure that they learn and gain clinical experience and exposure about the epidemiological and clinical profile of local community.

Analysis and Findings of the Court

In the backdrop of above, the Court was to address following questions:

  1. Whether a person who has not undertaken internship as part of the medical course undertaken by him/her abroad is eligible to appear in the Screening Test provided for under Section 13(4A) of the IMC Act?

Regulation 11 of Screening Test Regulations, 2002 provides that candidates who qualify the Screening Test may apply to any State Medical Council for provisional or permanent registration and the State Medical Councils shall issue provisional registration to such candidates, who are yet to undergo one year internship in an approved institution and issue permanent registration to such eligible candidates who have already undergone one year internship. Therefore, internship is not insisted for appearing in the Screening Test and the only requirement for appearing in the Screening Test is that the candidates should possess a primary medical qualification.

Noticing that the State Medical Council did not have a case that the petitioner did not possess a primary medical qualification as defined in the Regulations at the time when she applied for and cleared the Screening Test, the Bench held that the stand of the State Medical Council that only students who had completed internship as part of the medical course undertaken by them in the medical institution abroad were entitled to appear for the Screening Test was unsustainable.

  1. Whether a person who obtains Eligibility Certificate after taking admission in a medical institution abroad, be denied enrolment on a State Medical Register, if he/she satisfies all other eligibility criteria for the same?

On the issue that the petitioner had obtained Eligibility Certificate only after taking admission in the medical institution abroad, the Bench observed that the Council had no case that the petitioner would not have been issued Eligibility Certificate, had she applied for the same before taking admission for the medical course in the medical institution abroad.

Section 13(4B) of the IMC Act itself provides that in case any person obtains any medical qualification without obtaining Eligibility Certificate, he shall not be eligible to appear for the Screening Test concerned. Noticing the fact that the petitioner was permitted by the competent authority i.e. Indian Medical Council to appear for Screening Test and the fact that she had cleared the Screening Test were not disputed by the State Medical Council,  the Bench remarked,

“True, the State Medical Council, while considering applications for registration, both provisional and permanent, has the power to verify whether the candidate has obtained Eligibility Certificate, but that does not mean that the State Medical Council is empowered to adjudicate the right of a person to obtain Eligibility Certificate and to appear for the Screening Test, ignoring the decisions taken by the Medical Council of India in this regard.”

Accordingly, the stand of the Council that the qualification obtained by the petitioner could not be regarded as one in accordance with the provisions of the IMC Act as she had not obtained Eligibility Certificate before taking admission, so as to become eligible to be enrolled as a medical practitioner in the State Medical Register was held to be unsustainable.

  1. Whether a person who obtains a medical qualification from a medical institution abroad and undertakes one year internship thereafter in the country of education and satisfies all other eligibility criteria for enrolment on a State Medical Register be insisted to undergo CRRI for the said purpose?

As per the IMC Act and Regulation 11 a person who obtains medical qualification granted by medical institutions outside India recognised for enrolment as medical practitioner in that country and who clears the Screening Test in terms of Section 13(4A) of the IMC Act, is entitled to be enrolled as a medical practitioner on any State Medical Register, if he has already undergone one year internship.

Since the fact that the petitioner had obtained a medical qualification granted by a medical institution in a country outside India recognised for enrolment as medical practitioner in that country and the fact that she had cleared the Screening Test were not in dispute, including the fact that the petitioner had completed one year internship after acquiring the primary medical qualification, the Bench held that the State Medical Council was obliged to grant permanent registration to the petitioner and they could not insist that the petitioner should undergo CRRI for the said purpose.

  1. Whether the State Medical Council is empowered to take decisions in the nature of Ext.P21?

Opining that a person who is entitled to registration in a State Medical Register in terms of the provisions of the IMC Act could not be denied registration by the State Medical Council, and the medical qualifications of foreign medical graduates who satisfy the requirements in the said provision are deemed to be recognised medical qualifications for the purpose of the IMC Act, the Bench was of the view that the requirement in terms of Ext.P21 that such medical graduates should undergo CRRI for claiming permanent registration was inconsistent with the requirement in terms of the IMC Act and also the Regulations.

“The IMC Act is one relatable to Entry 66 of List I of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution and the TCMP Act is one relatable to Entries 25 and 26 of List III of the Seventh Schedule.   In other words, Ext.P21 decision of the State Medical Council being inconsistent with the provisions contained in the IMC Act, the same is invalid and unenforceable.”  

Conclusion

In the result, the writ petitions were disposed of directing the State Medical Council to permit the petitioner to apply for the permanent registration, and if applied, grant permanent registration to the petitioner without insisting her to undergo CRRI. [Sadhiya Siyad v. State of Kerala, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 3954, decided on 20-10-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance by:

Counsel for the Petitioner: Santhosh Mathew, Arun Thomas, Jennis Stephen, Vijay V. Paul, Karthika Maria, Veena Raveendran, Anil Sebastian Pulickel and Divya Sara George

Counsel for the State: Titus Mani and N.Raghuraj, SC, TCMC & KNMC

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai* and Krishna Murari, JJ has refused to grant any relief to the students who were admitted to the 1st  year Professional MBBS course for the Academic Session 2016-2017 in Glocal Medical College, in contravention of the Notification that provided that the admissions were to be done only through the centralized admission process and not by way of private counselling.

The review petitioners had argued before the Court that they were duly qualified to be admitted inasmuch as, they had cleared the NEET examination. The review petitioners were admitted through the counselling conducted by the Glocal Medical College and had also cleared the 1st year and 2nd year examination.

However, the MCI as well as the State of Uttar Pradesh, submitted on the other hand that the Glocal Medical College, being very well aware about the Notification dated  22.8.2016, had conducted private counselling, which was not permissible in law and as such, the review petitioners, who entered through backdoor entry, are not entitled to any equitable relief.

Rejecting the review petitioners’ contention that the Notification dated 22.8.2016 is only an administrative instruction and therefore not binding, the Court held that the private counselling by Glocal Medical College was conducted contrary to the Notification issued by the State of Uttar Pradesh, which, in turn, was based on the judgment in Modern Dental College and Research Centre v. State of Madhya Pradesh,  2016 SCC OnLine SC 373, decided on 2.5.2016.

3-member oversight committee constituted to oversee the functioning of MCI

Further, the Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court vide judgment dated 15.9.2016 had negated the challenge to the Notification dated 22.8.2016.

Hence, in the light of this position, it was not at all permissible for the Glocal Medical College to have   conducted   private counselling.

“The admissions which were conducted through the said private counselling cannot be termed as anything else but per se illegal.”

Further, MCI vide order dated 27.1.2017 had discharged the said students, who were not admitted through centralized admission process.  25 students admitted in the same college, who were admitted through the centralized admission process, were very much absorbed by the DGME in other colleges. Hence, the contention of the review petitioners that they came to know about the discharge order 21 dated 27.1.2017 issued by MCI only when they had filed a petition in the High Court in 2019 does not stand to reason.

In such scenario, the Court found it difficult to appreciate as to how the results of the students were declared for the 1st year MBBS examination, how they were admitted in the 2nd year MBBS course and how they cleared the 2nd  year MBBS examination, despite the fact that MCI had discharged the students vide order dated 27.1.2017.

Refusing to show any sympathies to students who had entered through backdoor, the Court held,

“The Notification issued by the State of Uttar Pradesh on the basis of the law laid down by this Court clearly provided that the admissions were to be done only through the centralized admission process.  Glocal Medical College in contravention of the said Notification conducted private counselling, which was not at all permissible in law. The students cannot be said to be ignorant about the Notification issued by the State of Uttar Pradesh.”

[Abdul Ahad v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 627, decided on 17.08.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice BR Gavai

For Review Petitioners: Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul

For MCI: Advocate Dhawal Mohan

For State of Uttar Pradesh: Advocate Ankit Goel

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of R.D. Dhanuka and R.I. Chagla, JJ., addressed a petition revolving around the Right to Education Act, 2009.

In the instant petition, petitioner sought directions against respondents 1 and 2 to forthwith grant admission to his son as per the allotment letter issued to the petitioner by the competent authorities under Right to Education Act, 2009 in Standard I during the academic year 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Petitioner’s son was issued a certificate of disability of persons with autism by Nair Hospital and sometime in the year 2019, he applied for online admission of his son under the RTE Act, 2009.

Later, respondents 3 and 4 granted admission to petitioner in the respondent 1 school. The admission was granted after verification of the documents submitted before the committee.

Further, the petitioner made a representation to the Education Department informing that though the petitioner had visited the respondent 1 school in the month of August, 2019, the Administrative Officer refused to grant admission to the petitioner in spite of the letter of allotment issued by the authority. Hence the petitioner filed the present petition.

Analysis, Law and Decision

It was noted that respondent 2 had been granted a certificate of ‘minority education institution’ within the meaning of Section 2(g) of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institution Act, 2004 on 17-02-2020 and respondents 1 and 2 were issued a letter in favour of the petitioner for granting admission to the son of the petitioner in the respondent no.1 school much prior to the date of such certificate.

Hence, respondents 1 and 2 were thus required to comply with the said directives issued by the competent authority within the time prescribed therein which was much prior to the said date of certificate.

Upon raising a query upon the learned counsel for respondents 1 and 2 whether any other students had been admitted by respondents 1 and 2 prior to the date of obtaining such certificate dated 17-02-2020 under the provisions of the Right to Education Act, 2009, learned counsel fairly on instructions states that four students were admitted prior to 17th February, 2020 based on the directives issued by the Education Department under the provisions of the Right to Education Act, 2009.

Counsel for respondents 1 and 2 could not dispute that the respondents could not have cancelled the admission once granted to the petitioner on the ground of minority status granted subsequently.

Bench opined that respondents 1 and 2 cannot be allowed to take advantage of such certificate obtained after committing default in complying with the directives which were already issued prior to the date of such certificate.

The disobedience of the directives issued by the Education Department cannot be condoned by obtaining certificate as minority education institution subsequently.

Medical certificate by the petitioner indicated that the recommendation made by the Department of Psychiatry were that the petitioner’s son should continue in a regular school with various further advise.

Therefore, Court directed the respondent 1 and 2 to comply with the directives issued by the Education Department and to grant admission to the son of the petitioner in respondent 1 school within one week.

In view of the above, petition was disposed of. [Ashish Patel v. Edubridge International School, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 1587, decided on 5-08-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Mr C. R. Sadasivan, a/w. Mr Anup Dhannawat for the Petitioner.

Mr Pradeep Bakhru, a/w. Ms Upasana Vasu i/b. M/s.Wadia Ghandy & Co. for the Respondents 1 and 2.

Mr Milind More, Additional Government Pleader for the State – Respondents 3 and 4.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench comprising of L. Nageswara Rao and Krishna Murari, JJ., dismissed the instant petition for grant of permission for Medical Colleges after observing infrastructural and faculty deficiencies. The Bench remarked,

“It is clear that gross deficiencies still exist in spite of the affidavits and undertakings filed on behalf of the State of Jharkhand. No action has been taken to improve the situation.”

Central government had identified three Districts in the State of Jharkhand namely Dumka, Hazaribagh and Palamu for establishing new Medical Colleges. Pursuant to which State of Jharkhand was granted essentiality certificates to all the three proposed Medical Colleges. Later on, Medical Council of India (MCI) had, after multiple warnings and assessments revoked the permission for allotment of students to Medical Colleges on the ground of several infrastructural and faculty deficiencies. Consequently, all the three colleges had approached the Supreme Court for grant of permission.

Similarly, a petition was also filed by the students who appeared in NEET, MBBS Examination, on being aggrieved by the decision of MCI not to grant approval for admissions to the three Medical Colleges. The grievance of the Petitioners was that 300 seats out of 580 medical seats in the State of Jharkhand were allotted to the above named three Medical Colleges. If permission was not granted to the three Medical Colleges for making admissions for the academic year 2020-2021, the chances of the Petitioners pursuing medical course would reduce.

The Bench observed that establishment of Medical Colleges at Dumka, Palamu and Hazaribagh was an initiative taken by the State of Jharkhand to bolster the availability of medical seats in the State which would increase the number of Doctors in the State. However,

“Perusal of the facts mentioned above would show that not much interest has been taken by the State in ensuring that the necessary faculty, infrastructure and other facilities are improved.”

On 20-08-2019, an affidavit was filed by government of Jharkhand that certain deficiencies had been rectified and the remaining shall be rectified within a period of three months. However, in the inspection conducted by the MCI to consider the renewal of permission for MBBS second batch of students for the academic year 2020-2021 gross deficiencies were found to exist in all the three Medical Colleges. Considering the above mentioned, the Bench said that permission could not be granted for allotment of students to Medical Colleges which lack the necessary infrastructure and facilities.

Observing that gross deficiencies still exist in spite of the affidavits and undertakings filed on behalf of the State of Jharkhand and no action had been taken to improve the situation, the Bench directed state to rectify all the deficiencies that had been pointed out by the MCI at the earliest and make an application for renewal of permission for admission of the second batch of MBBS students for the academic year 2021-2022.

In the light of above, the instant petition was dismissed.

[Dumka Medical College v. Medical Council of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 122, decided on 16-02-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench comprising of L. Nageswara Rao* and Krishna Murari, JJ., addressed the plight of NEET students. The Bench stated,

“Decision of government not to reduce minimum marks for admission was propelled by extraneous considerations like sufficient number of Dentists being available in the country and the reasons for which students were not inclined to get admitted to BDS course which remits in the decision being unreasonable. Consideration of factors other than availability of eligible students would be the result of being influenced by irrelevant or extraneous matters.”

Observing the scarcity of qualified aspirants, Dental Council of India had recommended lowering of qualifying cut off percentile for admission to (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) BDS course for the academic year 2020-2021. Pursuant to which the Petitioners had submitted a representation to government seeking to lower the qualifying cut off percentile. Recommendation of the Council had been rejected by Government which led to filing of the instant petition under Article 32 of the Constitution.

Proviso to Sub-Regulation (ii) of Regulation II of the Regulations is as follows:

“Provided when sufficient number of candidates in the respective categories fail to secure minimum marks as prescribed in National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test held for any academic year for admission to BDS Course, the Central Government in consultation with Dental Council of India may at its discretion lower the minimum marks required for admission to BDS Course for candidates belonging to respective categories and marks so lowered by the Central Government shall be applicable for the said academic year only”.

Whether demand to reduce qualifying cut off was rightly rejected?

Proviso to Sub-Regulation (ii) of Regulation II had empowered government to exercise its discretion to lower minimum marks only when sufficient numbers of candidates fail to secure minimum marks. Government could not for any purpose other than the one specified in the proviso to Regulation II (5) (ii). There were three reasons given for the decision not to lower minimum marks by the state:

  • Available seats vis-à-vis eligible candidates were 1:7 and therefore there was no dearth of eligible candidates.
  • Sufficient number of Dentists in India. There was one Dentist for every 6080 persons which was better than the WHO norms of 1 : 7500.
  • Lack of keenness of students to join BDS and inability to pay exorbitantly high fees charged by private colleges

On the submission of existence of seven candidates against one seat, the Bench observed that this calculation of the State was without taking into account the fact that admissions for UG AYUSH and other UG medical courses were included in the NEET for the first time from in 2020. Total number of seats available for the academic year 2020-2021 for MBBS were 91,367, BDS were 26,949 and AYUSH were 52,720 making it a total of 1,71,036 seats. Whereas, the NEET qualified candidates were 7,71,500.

It did not appear that while arriving at decision not to lower minimum marks, the State had consulted the Council in accordance with the proviso to Sub-Regulation (ii) of the Regulation II. Hence, ratio of seats available vis-à-vis eligible students was 1 : 4.5 and not 7. Noticing the above, the Bench stated,

“Decision which materially suffers from the blemish of overlooking or ignoring, wilfully or otherwise, vital facts bearing on the decision is bad in law. There is an implicit obligation on the decision maker to apply his mind to pertinent and proximate matters only, eschewing the irrelevant and the remote.”

The Bench concurred with the argument of the petitioners that lowering minimum marks and reducing percentile for admission to the first-year BDS course would not amount to lowering the standards of education Considering the fact that minimum marks had been reduced by the State for super speciality courses for last year and AYUSH courses for the current year, the Bench expressed,

“If reducing minimum marks amounts to lowering standards, the State would not do so for super speciality courses.”

Hence, the Bench directed that vacant seats in first year BDS course for the year 2020-2021 should be filled up from the candidates who had participated in the NEET after lowering the percentile mark by 10 percentile. The petition was disposed of with further directions to Managements of private Dental Colleges to consider reducing fee charged by them to encourage students to join the Colleges.

[Harshit Agarwal v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 64, decided on 08-02-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

*Judgment by: Justice L. Nageswara Rao

Appearances before the Court by

For petitioners: Senior Advocate Maninder Singh and advocate Krishna Dev Jagarlamudi

For Union of India: Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where a Medical College illegally denied admission to a candidate to Post-Graduate Medical Specialty course of MS for the academic year 2020-2021, the bench of L. Nageswara Rao* and Hemant Gupta, JJ has directed the College to pay a compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs to the candidate and to reserve a seat for her for the next academic year.

 

SC directs a Medical College to pay 10 lakhs compensation to a candidate for illegally denying her admission

Brief Background

Respondent was given provisional admission a seat in Kamineni Academy of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Hyderabad under Management quota. According to the provisional allotment order, Respondent No.1 was required to report before the Principal of the Medical College by 04:00 PM on 30.07.2020. In case of failure to report within the prescribed time, the provisional selection shall be automatically cancelled.

According to the Respondent, in spite of her approaching Medical College along with her father on 29.07.2020 and 30.07.2020 for submission of certificates and payment of tuition fees as well as college fees, the admission was not completed. On 30.07.2020, the last date for admission into PG Medical Courses was extended till 30.08.2020. She then made an attempt to meet the Chairman of the Medical College on 07.08.2020 but was not permitted to meet the Chairman.

Subsequently, another candidate who was 2000 ranks below the Respondent was granted admission.

The High Court for Telangana directed the National Medical Commission/ Medical Council of India to create or sanction one seat in MS (General Surgery) for the Respondent and further directed the Medical College to grant her admission to the in MS (General Surgery) course.

Analysis

Contradictory stands by the Medical College

A perusal of the counter affidavit filed by the Medical College showed contradiction in the pleadings. On one hand, it is stated that Respondent and her father did not approach the College either on 29.07.2020 or 30.07.2020 for the purpose of admission. However, in it’s counter the Medical College has also stated Respondent had approached the College on 29.07.2020 to enquire about the admission procedure and the requisite fee.

The Court, hence, noticed that there was no reason to believe that Respondent did not approach the Medical College for admission, especially after paying the University Fee on 29.07.2020.

Admission to a candidate 2000 rank below the Respondent

The last date for admission to the PG Medical Courses for the academic year 2020-2021 was extended from 30.07.2020 to 30.08.2020. Another candidate, who is 2000 ranks below the Respondent, was granted admission on 11.08.2020 to the seat which was provisionally allotted to Respondent.

The Court noticed that there was nothing on record to show that the Medical College followed the procedure prescribed by the Regulations for filling up the seat due to non-joining. As the last date for admission has been extended beyond 30.07.2020, there was sufficient time for the Medical College to inform the Respondent to come and join in the seat that was allotted to her provisionally. In case of refusal by Respondent to join, it was incumbent upon the Medical College to have followed the merit list and offered the seat to doctors who were immediately ranked below the Respondent.

“The manner in which Respondent No.2-College acted in depriving admission to Respondent No.1 and giving admission to Respondent No.5 on 11.08.2020 is deplorable. The Managements of the Medical Colleges are not expected to indulge in such illegalities in making admissions to Medical Courses.”

High Court’s direction for creation of a seat

The Court reiterated that directions cannot be issued for increasing annual intake capacity and to create seats. The annual intake capacity is fixed by the Medical Council of India (now National Medical Commission) which has to be strictly adhered. Admissions to Medical Colleges cannot be permitted to be made beyond the sanctioned annual intake capacity of a medical college.

A balancing act of granting relief to both the candidates  

The Court found itself in a catch 22 situation where it could neither direct the Medical College to grant admission to the Respondent for this academic year as the last date for admissions was 30.08.2020, nor could it cancel the admission of the other candidate who was allotted the Respondent’s seat as he might not have known about the denial of admission to Respondent illegally.

Disapproving the practice of the Medical College in picking up students for granting admission without following the merit list, the Court refrained from disturbing the admission granted to the other candidate.

However, considering that the Respondent has lost one precious academic year for no fault of hers, the Court directed that

  1. she has to be compensated with Rs.10 Lakhs to be paid by the Medical College within a period of four weeks from the date of the decision.
  2. one seat in MS (General Surgery) course from the Management Quota of the Medical College for the next academic year (2021-22) shall be granted to her.

[National Medical Commission v. Mothukuru Sriyah Koumudi,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 992, decided on 07.12.2020]


*Justice L. Nageswara Rao has penned this judgment 

For the candidate: Advocate K. Parameshwar
For National Medical Commission: Advocate Gaurav Sharma
For the Medical College: Advocate Siddhant Buxy
Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi, JJ has directed that that there will be no reservation in Super Specialty Medical Courses to in-service doctors for the academic year 2020-2021.

The direction reads,

“… the counselling for admission to Super Specialty Medical Courses for the academic year 2020- 2021 shall proceed on a date to be fixed by the competent authority without providing for reservations to in-service doctors for the academic year 2020-2021.”

Facts considered

  • The information bulletin for admission to Super Specialty Courses for the academic year 2020-2021 was issued on 03.08.2020. Point 5.16 of the bulletin provided that there shall be no reservations of seats for Super Specialty DM/MCH Courses.
  • The NEET Super Specialty Examination was conducted on 15.09.2020 and the results were declared on 25.09.2020.
  • Counselling was scheduled to commence on 08.10.2020.
  • The Medical Counselling Committee issued the counselling scheme for 100 per cent All India Quota for NEET Super Specialty DM/MCH DMB 2020-2021 in which it was made clear that there shall be no reservation for Super Specialty Medical Courses.
  • The State of Tamil Nadu issued a Government Order dated 07.11.2020 by which a decision was taken to reserve 50 per cent of the Super Specialty seats in Government Medical Colleges in the State of Tamil Nadu for in-service candidates.
  • Kerala Medical Officers Admission to Postgraduate Courses under Service Quota Act, 2008 provides for 40 per cent reservation for in-service doctors in admission to the Super Specialty Medical Courses. Admittedly, the Act was not implemented for the years 2017-2019. By the impugned order, the Kerala High Court directed the concerned authorities to carry out the provisions of the Act and provide reservation to in-service Doctors. However, the State of Kerala has shown its inability to implement the said Act for admission to the Super Specialty Medical Courses for the current academic year i.e. 2020-2021.

Arguments against in-service Reservation

It was argued that the information bulletin made clear to the candidates that there shall be no reservation for admission to Super Specialty Courses. They further contended that the Rules of the game cannot be changed mid-stream and no reservation can be provided for this academic year i.e. 2020-2021 as the procedure for selections for admission to Super Specialty Medical Courses commenced a long time back.

It was also brought to Court’s notice that the 5-judge bench decision in Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association v. Union of India2020 SCC OnLine SC 699[1] was not applicable as the information bulletin for admission to Super Specialty Courses for the academic year 2020-2021 was issued on 03.08.2020 and the judgment that was delivered on 31.08.2020, clearly stated that the judgment shall operate prospectively.

Arguments supporting in-service Reservation

It was argued that administrative inconvenience cannot be a ground to interfere with the order passed by the High Court directing implementation of reservation to in-service doctors in accordance with the Kerala Medical Officers Admission to Postgraduate Courses under Service Quota Act, 2008.

Further, the Constitution Bench in its judgment in Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 699 only saved the admissions which have already been made. As the admissions for the year 2020-2021 have not been completed, the said judgment has to be implemented for admissions to the academic year 2020- 2021.

What the Supreme Court said

The Court noticed that the process for admissions to Super Specialty Medical Courses started on 03.08.2020 and it was made clear to all the competing candidates that there shall be no reservation to Super Specialty Medical Courses. Hence,

“The Government order issued by the State of Tamil Nadu on 07.11.2020 reserving 50 per cent seats for in-service doctors would be detrimental to the interests of the meritorious Doctors as 50 per cent of the available seats in the State of Tamil Nadu in Super Specialty Medical Courses will not be available to them.”

Rejecting the submission that nobody will be prejudiced if the Government Order is given effect to, the Court said that there will be reduction of 50% of seats in Super Specialty courses in Tamil Nadu if the Government Order is carried out, which is detrimental to their chances of admission.

The Court also took note of the fact that the Kerala Medical Officers Admission to Postgraduate Courses under Service Quota Act, 2008 providing for 40 per cent reservation for in-service doctors in admission to the Super Specialty Medical Courses has not been implemented for the years 2017-2019. And the State of Kerala has shown its inability to implement the said Act for admission to the Super Specialty Medical Courses for the current academic year i.e. 2020-2021.

In the State of Tamil Nadu too, no reservation for in-service Doctors was implemented since 2016.

The Court, hence, held

“As the admission process is at the final stages, we cannot permit reservation for in-service Doctors for this year.”

[Dr. Prerit Sharma v. Dr. Bilu B.S.,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 961, decided on 27.11.2020]


For appellant: Senior Advocates Dushyant Dave and Shyam Divan

For National Medical Commission: Senior Advocate Vikas Singh

For Union of India: Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain

For State of Kerala: Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta

For State of Tamil Nadu: Senior Advocates C.S. Vaidhyanathan and V. Giri,

For Respondents in the Appeal arising out of SLP (C) No.13670-13672 of 2020: Senior Advocate Mr. P. Wilson

For Respondent in Appeal arising out of SLP (C) No.12891 of 2020.: Advocate George Varghese Perumpallikuttiyil

[1] The 5-judge Constitution bench of Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose, JJ in Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association v. Union of India2020 SCC OnLine SC 699 held that the Medical Council of India has no power to make any reservation for in-service candidates in Post Graduate Medical Course in States and that only States are allowed to grant the benefit of reservation of seats to in-service doctors in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) postgraduate degree courses.
Holding that States have the legislative competence and/or authority to provide for a separate source of entry for in-service candidates seeking admission to postgraduate degree/diploma courses, in exercise of powers under Entry 25, List III, the bench observed that
“…policy must provide that subsequent to obtaining the postgraduate degree by the concerned in-service doctors obtaining entry  in degree courses through such separate channel serve the State in the rural, tribal and hilly areas at least for five years after obtaining the degree/diploma and for that they will execute bonds for  such  sum the   respective  States  may   consider   fit  and  proper”
The Court, however, specifically   observed   and   clarified   that the present decision shall operate prospectively, and any admissions given earlier taking a contrary view shall not be affected by this judgment. (Read more…)

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has held that the NRI quota for admission to private medical colleges is neither sacrosanct, not inviolable in terms of existence in any given year, or its extent and the same can be done away with it by the state regulating authority by giving reasonable notice of such a decision to enable those aspiring to such seats to choose elsewhere, having regard to the prevailing conditions.


FACTUAL MATRIX


  • On 17.03.2020, when the NEET PG Medical & Dental Admission/Counselling Board (the Board) convened the meeting attended by representatives of all participating colleges (including private medical colleges offering seats in the postgraduate medical courses in Rajasthan), the unanimous thinking was to offer NRI/Management seats to the extent of 15% of the total admission intake.
  • When the provisional seat matrix was published on 10.04.2020, it did not indicate that those opting for admission exclusively as NRI candidates would be considered as belonging to any other category.
  • On 11.04.2020, the private colleges sent their final matrix to the board. This matrix, unbeknown to the NRI candidates, proposed deletion of the NRI quota.
  • In the circumstances, when the final matrix was published for each college detailing the quotas for individual disciplines, the original earmarking for NRI candidates was absent.
  • On 14.04.2020, a notification was issued by Board stating that that the seat matrix for the current year would not contain the NRI Quota in the private medical colleges of Rajasthan. It read as

“Seat Matrix (13.04.2020) available at the website (compiled on the basis of seats information provided by respective colleges) does not have any NRI seat this year. The candidates who have applied for allotment on NRI seats will accordingly be considered based on their remaining eligibility criteria.”


ARGUMENTS


The students had argued that having held out to all NRI candidates about the availability of seats for that quota as well as the sequence of filling up those seats, at the penultimate hour, the board could not have decided unilaterally or even permitted colleges unilaterally to withdraw the NRI quota seats altogether.

The counsel appearing for the private colleges, on the other hand, urged that the decision not to offer an NRI quota in medical colleges in the state of Rajasthan was voluntarily and consciously taken, given the extraordinary and unusual situation created by the pandemic. The explanation given by the colleges was that in their assessment, NRI quota seats might not have been filled up to the normal expected levels and in the circumstances, it was more appropriate to merge the seats earmarked for NRI candidates with the management seats.

“The accommodation of NRI quota candidates who had opted to be treated as such, in the admission process was transparent and uniform in that all of them were considered on merits for the management quota seats. Thus, there was no real prejudice suffered by such NRI candidates.”


WHAT THE COURT SAID


On PA Inamdar Verdict and its applicability

The four crucial elements in the NRI quota, per PA Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra, (2005) 6 SCC 537 are: one, the discretion of the management (whether to have the quota or not); two, the limit (15%); three, that seats should be available for genuine and bona fide NRI students, and lastly that the quota was to be filled based on merit. However, there is nothing in PA Inamdar to say that a 15% NRI quota is an unqualified and unalterable part of the admission process in post graduate medical courses.

On scope of discretionary power of private medical colleges on NRI quota

A combined effect of the provisions of the Medical Council of India Act and regulations with respect to admissions (which have been progressively amended in respect of eligibility for admission to courses, procedure for admission, etc.) and the decisions of this court, is that private colleges and institutions which offer such professional and technical courses, have some elbow room: they can decide whether, and to what extent, they wish to offer NRI or management quotas (the limits of which are again defined by either judicial precedents, enacted law or subordinate legislation).

However, the discretion of private managements who set up and manage medical colleges cannot be left to such an untrammelled degree as to result in unfairness to candidates. Undoubtedly, these private institutions have the discretion to factor in an NRI or any other permissible quota. Yet that discretion should be tempered; if the discretion to have such a quota is exercised, it should be revised or modified reasonably, and within reasonable time.

On the facts of the case

This case presents some unusual features in that the admission calendar appears to have been thrown out of gear on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. The NEET written test was held in January, and the results were declared on i.e. 31.01.2020. At that stage, and soon thereafter till the end of March, the thinking of the colleges and the board appears to be that the NRI quota in private medical colleges would be maintained (evident from the minutes of meeting dated 17.03.2020).

In terms of the board’s notification of 10.04.2020, the NRI students’ documents were to be verified on 14.04.2020. Apparently, immediately a day after that notification, on 11.04.2020 to be precise, the private colleges en masse appear to have decided not to proceed with the NRI quota and instead ‘merge’ it with the 35% management quota seats, and proceed to fill them entirely based upon rank based merit of the management quota candidates arranged in terms of their ranking and performance in the NEET. NRI candidates were to be treated as management quota candidates, and their applications too, considered on the basis of their overall merit in that category.

Considering the abovementioned facts, the Court noticed that

“Viewed in isolation, this decision is perfectly valid; it gives one the impression that NRI students were not prejudiced. Undoubtedly, the decision to abolish the NRI quota was exclusively within the scope of the private institutions’ decision-making. Yet what is apparent is that by this time, the NRI students had not only started applying for counselling, but had also submitted all their documents for verification to determine their eligibility for the NRI quota seats, and in a sense, committed themselves as candidates for NRI quota seats in Rajasthan for whatever perceived advantages they could reasonably see in their favour. Hence, when the matter stood thus, when the final seat matrices were published on 13.04.2020, it acted to the unfair detriment of these NRI students.”

On relief to the students

In the circumstances of this case and to do justice to all the parties, the Court directed that a special counselling session should be carried out by the board, confined or restricted to the seats in respect of which admissions were made pursuant to the single judge’s directions.

In this counselling session,

  • The board should ensure participation of the concerned colleges; the counselling shall be a limited one, confined only to the number of seats offered and filled as a result of the single judge’s judgment.
  • Such seats shall be offered to the NRI applicants solely on the basis of merit; the seats vacated by such merited students (in the other disciplines) shall then be offered to the beneficiaries of the single judge’s orders.
  • If for any reason, such students (i.e. lower down in NRI merit, who are offered seats in other disciplines) do not wish to take up the offer, the college concerned shall refund the fee collected from such student.

The Court also made clear that this special round of counselling should not disturb those admissions, where students had accepted the deletion of the NRI quota, and were accommodated in the management quota, unless they had approached the court at the earliest opportunity, in April 2020, before the judgment of the learned single judge. The entire process shall be completed with a week.

[Nilay Gupta v. Chairman NEET PG Medical and Dental Admission/Counselling Board 2020 and Principal Govt. Dental College,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 819, decided on 09.10.2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of SA Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari, JJ ‘reluctantly’ dismissed an SLP arising out of a Allahabad High Court order which held that the students with certificates from ‘bogus and fictitious’ organisations cannot be allowed to continue pursuing their courses at Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University (APJAKTU).

The Court said,

“We do have sympathy but this is not a case where we can really translate our sympathy to a relief in the present case, more so, in view of the fact that since this exam system is found to be fraudulent, the petitioners before us will never have a recognized plus two status and to give such students the opportunity to get a degree from the University will create a great anomaly.”

The Court also took noticed that the Jharkhand State open exam process itself appears to be a complete fraud. It also faulted the University for not carrying out an appropriate verification as also the State Government “which should have kept a watch for such fraudulent exam systems which operate out of one room”.

The Court, hence, asked the University and the State Government to take immediate corrective action and also bring the defaulters to book.

On being apprised that the continuation on the website of the recognition of the Board is not only creating a problem in Jharkhand but also in other Universities and hence immediate steps should be taken in this behalf, the Court asked all concerned to do the needful within three days.

[Sahil Sohail v. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 719, order dated 07.09.2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: N. Anand Venkatesh, J., urged the Bar Council of India to amend its Rule 5 in order to ensure that the candidates who complete their Higher Secondary and UG through the regular course alone are made eligible to participate for selection in the 5-year course or 3-year law course, as the case may be.

The instant petition sought a direction to respondents with regard to the admission of the petitioner in the 3-year LL.B degree course during the academic year 2019-2020.

The petitioner applied for the three years L.L.B. Degree Course under the MBC category and the petitioner on obtaining necessary cut off marks.

Petitioner at the time of counselling was informed that he was not eligible to be considered for selection on the ground that he did not satisfy requirements laid under Rule 5 of the Bar Council of India Rules. Hence the present petition was filed.

What does Rule 5 of the Bar Council of India talk about?

Rule 5 of the Bar Council of India Rules makes it very clear that an applicant must graduate through a regular programme conducted by a University for the purpose of being considered for admission in the 3 year Law Course.

However, the proviso, which should be considered as an exception to the main Rule, expands the eligibility. The proviso makes it clear that even the applicants who have obtained Higher Secondary or Under Graduation through Distance Education will also be eligible for admission for the 5-year course or the 3-year course, as the case may be.

Further, it has been added that a person who has not completed 10th cannot qualify for 10+2, a person who has not completed 10+2 cannot qualify for UG and a person who has not completed UG cannot qualify for PG. This is the literal meaning for the explanation appended to Rule 5 of Bar Council of India Rules

Court made the observation that as per the existing Rules, the petitioner is eligible for being considered as a candidate for the 3 year B.L Course subject to the condition that the petitioner again participates in the selection for the academic year 2020-2021 and obtains necessary cut off marks.

Bench while disposing of the petition also stated that,

Necessary changes in Rule 5 should be made to ensure that the candidates who complete their Higher Secondary and UG through the regular course alone are made eligible to participate for selection in the 5 year course or 3 year course, as the case may be.

In the absence of the same, persons who have not even gone to the regular school or college will get into a law college for the first time in their life and that may not be a healthy trend to maintain the quality of education in Law.

The Bar Council of India should seriously take this suggestion into consideration and make necessary changes to the Rule.

[M. Krishnakumar v. Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law University, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2017, decided on 19-08-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Manoj K. Tiwari, J., dismissed a writ petition that was filed by the petitioner who was serving as Medical Officer in Community Health Centre. She had participated in NEET-PG for admission to Masters Degree Course in Medicine and according to her, she was entitled to admission against the P.G. seat in General Medicine Course in Government Medical College, Haldwani by virtue of more marks; but, the said seat had been wrongly allotted to respondent 5.

The counsel for respondent 2, Shailendra Nauriyal contended that since petitioner had not got herself registered with the Counseling Board for admission to P.G. Courses while respondent 5 had got herself registered, the petitioner’s claim could not be considered for admission during first counseling. He further submitted that the petitioner got herself registered with the Counseling Board for second counseling and, in second counseling; she has been allotted to a Pediatrician Course in Government Medical College.

The Court while dismissing the petition stated that Petitioner herself is to be blamed for not applying for registration at the relevant point of time. No one can claim to be given admission only in Government Medical Colleges, especially when common counseling is held for admission to Government as well as Private Medical Colleges and admission would be given as per score of marks in NEET-PG. [Sushmita Ringwal v. State of Uttaranchal, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 495, decided on 18-08-2020]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: A Full Bench of Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, CJ., L.T.B.Dehideniya and P. Padman Surasena, JJ., dismissed an application which was filed aggrieved by the denial of admission in the school stating it to be a Fundamental Right violation guaranteed under Article 12(1) of the Constitution.

Petitioners being the parents of the minor child had made an application to admit the child to Visaka Vidyalaya, Colombo. The application was based on the category of ‘children of persons belonging to the staff in an institution directly involved in school education’. Under the circular 24/ 2018 (1R1), paragraph 7.5.2.2, if a parent had worked in a difficult school, that parent was entitled to obtain 03 marks for a full year, up to the maximum of 15 marks, in relation to which he had submitted all the relevant documents with the school. The petitioner contended that the interview board headed by the Respondent had not accepted this document as proof of the fact that, A/ Habarana Maha Vidyalaya was a difficult school. Thus, the instant application. The Petitioners, on the basis of this document, argued that, they were entitled for additional 12 marks after which they go above the cut-off mark and their minor child would have been admitted to Visaka Vidyalaya. According to the respondents the appeal board had not considered this document because they were not permitted to consider any document other than the documents that were tendered at the 1st interview.

The Court while dismissing the application stated that the said act does not amount to a violation of Fundamental Rights under Article 12(1) of the Constitution and explained that Respondent being the Principal of Visaka Vidyalaya cannot be held liable for her conduct as the Petitioners were unable to produce a document certifying A/ Habarana Maha Vidyalaya is a difficult school at the interview and there was clear negligence on the part of the Petitioners in not producing the correct documents at the time of the interview and also the document that they relied on does not provide any basis for a relief provided by law. [Iresha Dulashini Dangolla v. Sandamali Aviruppola, 2020 SCC OnLine SL SC 5, decided on 04-08-2020]


*Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsSupreme Court

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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Manoj Kumar Ohri, J. allowed a revision petition filed against the judgment of the trial court whereby the petitioner was convicted for offence punishable under Section 354-A IPC (sexual harassment).

On the day of the incident, the petitioner was acting as an invigilator inside the examination hall where the complainant was writing her History subject examination paper. It was alleged that the petitioner made unwelcome physical contact with the complainant involving explicit sexual overtures against her. Further, he met the complainant nearby the bus stand and uttered certain words towards her intending to insult her modesty and intrude upon her privacy. The trial court found the allegations proved and convicted the petitioner as aforesaid. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner approached the High Court.

At the outset, the High Court noted that an accused can be convicted on the sole testimony of the prosecutrix, but in the instant case, the Court was of the opinion that the complainant’s testimony was not such as to inspire confidence. It found many discrepancies and improvements in her statements as was evident from the record of the case.

Perusing the impugned order, it was noted, inter alia, that the trial court, as well as the Appellate Court, relied upon the suggestion given on behalf of the petitioner to the complaint that she had already obtained the phone number of the petitioner after leaving the examination hall and that is how she knew the same. The Appellate Court observed that the suggestion essentially goes to show that the petitioner himself had admitted the possession of his phone number with the complainant. However, in High Court’s opinion, the question of whether a suggestion given by the counsel on behalf of the accused can be considered as admission and bind the accused under Section 18 of Evidence Act is to be answered in negative. Referring to earlier decisions, according to the Court, the plea or defence put forward by the lawyer of the accused cannot bind him. The lawyer has no implied authority to admit the guilt or facts incriminating the accused.

In light of the inconsistencies and the improvements made by the complainant during her deposition and in absence of any corroborating evidence to support her statement, the Court was of the opinion that the testimony of the complainant does not inspire confidence. It was held that the prosecution failed to prove the case against the petitioner, the finding of guilt recorded by the trial court and the Appellate Court was manifestly illegal and perverse. Resultantly, the revision petition was allowed. The petitioner’s conviction was set aside. [Pawan Kumar v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 10452, decided on 10-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: The Division Bench comprising of Harinder Singh Sidhu & Arun Monga, JJ. dismissed the writ petition on the ground that there was no legal infirmity in the action of the State of Punjab to adopt the wider definition of the NRI in the domain of policymaking.

A writ petition was made against Clause 17 of the Notification whereby, definition and scope of Non-Resident Indian (NRI) have been restricted to include only an NRI and/or children of NRI.

The facts of the case were that the petitioner took the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (for short ‘NEET’) conducted for admission to MBBS/BDS in medical colleges situated all over India including the State of Punjab. The petitioner qualified the cut off marks prescribed in the examination and was eligible to apply for admission in the medical colleges. The petitioner was primarily aggrieved by the action of the State in excluding the first degree relations of NRI and wards thereof from the realm of the definition of ‘NRI’.

Pankaj Bansal, Counsel for the petitioner submits that by restricting the Category I to mean ‘an NRI and/or children of NRI’ results in hostile discrimination towards the students in the State of Punjab. NRI reservation was provided in all the medical colleges of India wherein a wider meaning has been given to word ‘NRI’ by including the first degree relations of NRI and wards of NRI within the meaning of word ‘NRI’. Learned counsel for the petitioner has also emphatically argued that restriction on the scope of the word ‘NRI’ has no reasonable nexus with the objectives sought to be achieved. He submits that if the scope of the definition of NRI is widened then the wider pool of talent would be available and the same will thus advance the requisite merit. The petitioner put reliance on the case of  P.A. Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra, (2005) 6 SCC 537, wherein the Supreme Court has discussed the definition of NRI.

Rashmi Attri and M.S. Longia, Counsels for the respondents opposed the impugned notification on the ground that there are quite a large number of NRIs and in its wisdom, the State Government had rightly restricted the scope of the definition of NRI to mean either ‘an NRI or children of the NRI’. Enlarging the scope of the same to first degree relatives and/ or the wards of the NRI would open flood gates for the applicants to seek the benefit of NRI quota.

High Court thus opined that purpose of narrowing down the definition of ‘NRI’ vide clause 17, does not miss the very ratio laid down in Inamdar’s case, inasmuch as, it has been clearly laid down by the Apex Court that under the garb of NRI quota less meritorious students who can afford to spend more money get admission even though neither the student is an NRI nor his/ her parents are NRIs.

Thus, the Court was of the opinion that the purpose of restricting the definition is to give weightage only to the genuine cases where the children of those parents who have migrated to other countries to get the benefit of education in their native country. Court further added that “we also do not find any merit in the argument that the narrowing of the scope of the definition of ‘NRI’ by the State is hostile discrimination qua the students of Punjab. It is open for the State Government to make any policy with regard to the residents of the State and no interference is warranted by this Court in the domain of policymaking. It is up to the State to widen or narrow the scope of the definition of ‘NRI’ and such exercise of power would not amount to any discrimination.” Thus the petition was dismissed.[Asmita Kaur v. State of Punjab, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 937, decided on 26-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench of CJ Hrishikesh Roy and A.K. Jayashankaran Nambiar, J. opined that the students could not be compelled to continue in a college which according to their perception was detrimental to their career and laid that there was no reason to interfere with the judgment of the single Judge whereby students were allowed the inter-college transfer.

Respondent student sought inter-collegiate transfer from the Cochin Institute of Science and Technology to another self-financing college under the same university since the amenities and infrastructure in his college were inadequate. But the college principal did not accord permission for the inter-college transfer. Thus, the respondent herein had filed a petition before this Court and a Single Judge Bench[1] allowed the same holding that college could not arbitrarily reject issuance of NOC to students desirous of taking admission into another college/ institute. Aggrieved by the said decision, the appellant-college preferred the instant appeal.

The counsel for the appellant, Anoop V. Nair and M.S. Sandeep Sudhakaran contended that if such inter-college transfer was permitted, the functioning of the appellant college would itself be put to jeopardy as it might possibly adversely impact those opting to continue in the Cochin Institute of Science and Technology.

The Court relied on the judgment of Supreme Court in the case of K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1, in which it was held that the right of a person to individual autonomy was matter of personal choice and preferences were integral to his dignity and thereby it was his fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It remarked that “freedom to choose the college of his/her choice for pursuit of their studies is according to us, an aspect of the Fundamental Right to privacy, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.”

The Court held that the appellants had not been able to show any condition either statutory or contractual which obliged a student admitted to their college to necessarily continue their course of study in the same institution and therefore when a student felt that he could secure better education in another college and there was no legal bar in exercise of such option, appellants could not compel the students to continue their curriculum from the same college. Hence, the Court dismissed the appeals for being devoid of merit.[Cochin Institute of Science and Technology v. Jisin Jijo, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1800, decided on 04-06-2019]

[1] https://blog.scconline.com/post/2019/06/12/ker-hc-college-cannot-arbitrarily-reject-issuance-of-noc-to-students-desirous-of-taking-admission-into-another-college-institute/

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The vacation bench of Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant, JJ has refused to grant extension of time to respective medical colleges/deemed universities for carrying out counselling for P.G. courses and has said,

“If we permit violation of schedule and grant extension, we shall be opening a Pandora’s box and the whole purpose of fixing a time schedule and laying down a regime which strictly adheres to time schedule will be defeated.”

The petition filed by Education Promotion Society for India which representing a large number of   educational institutions including medical colleges running post­graduate (P.G.) medical courses that showed concern over the large number of seats in these colleges that are lying vacant. It was argued that there is an acute shortage of doctors in India and, in fact, the Union of India has permitted increase of seats in government medical colleges without increase of infrastructure

“this shows that the intention of the State is to ensure that more and more doctors pass out and treat the patients.”

The petitioner also cited various orders of this Court where extension of time was granted to medical colleges for carrying out counselling. On this the Court said,

“In this case the petitioners want a general extension of time not on account of any particular difficulty faced by any individual college or university but generally on the ground that a large number of seats for the P.G. courses are lying vacant.”

Taking judicial notice of the fact that every year large number of nonclinical seats remain vacant because many graduate doctors do not want to do post­graduation in non­clinical subjects, the Court said,

“Merely because the seats are lying vacant, in our view, is not a ground to grant extension of time and grant further opportunity to fill up vacant seats. The schedule must be followed.”

[Education Promotion Society for India v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 780, decided on 21.06.2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

“….senior members of the Bar have a duty to contribute to the learning and grooming of entrants during the mandatory apprenticeship period by imparting their knowledge and expertise of different areas of practice.”

 Supreme Court of Pakistan: The three-judge Bench of Mian Saqib Nisar, Umar Ata Bandial and Ijaz Ul Ahsan, JJ. was hearing a petition filed by the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) under Article 184(3) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan seeking enforcement of judgment rendered in Pakistan Bar Council v. Federal Government, 2006 SCC OnLine Pak SC 8 (PBC judgment).

The PBC judgment directed all law schools/colleges to comply with the “Affiliation of Law Colleges Rules” (Affiliation Rules”) framed by PBC to ensure uniform quality of legal education. The instant petition alleges that none of the respondent law colleges and universities have complied with the directions given in the PBC judgment and have instead granted affiliation to private law colleges in violation of the Affiliation Rules.

The Court noted that principal causes of a decline in the standard of legal education are due to the proliferation of sub-standard law degree awarding institutions that are motivated solely by commercial considerations rather than academic excellence. This shift in priorities has inevitably compromised the quality of education and hampered the intellectual development of law students.

In the foregoing perspective, it was concluded that a five-year LL.B. programme be introduced in law colleges that are not already offering it. This would provide the time and exposure to ensure a complete and comprehensive legal education where students can adequately learn and acquire the knowledge, skills, values and practical judgment required for the legal profession. Admission to 3-year LL.B. programme was banned after 31-12-2018. The Court also directed introduction of a test for entry to law colleges, i.e., Law Admission Test (LAT) and directed to restore bar entrance examination, i.e., Law Graduate Assessment Test (LAW-GAT).[Pakistan Bar Council v. Federal Government, Constitution Petition No. 134 of 2012, Order dated 31-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Petitioner-institution claimed before the Bench of Ajay Bhanot, J. that nine students, who were admitted directly in the D.El.Ed./B.T.C. course, were not to be permitted to appear in the examination.

Petitioner brought Court’s attention on the communication of the Examination Regulatory Authority. This communication was addressed to the Principal of District Institute of Education & Training (DIET), Mathura. According to the communication, DIET had to confirm to the Examination Regulatory Authority whether the names, particulars, and number of students were uploaded for on-line verification and were they on the website of the Examination Regulatory Authority. In reply, the nine students were mentioned to be admitted and their papers were received in the office of DIET, Mathura. Though, the reply mentioned nothing about the names being uploaded/locked on the website of the Examination Regulatory Authority. It was contended by petitioner that the future of students will be affected even though they had taken valid admission in the Institute.

High Court after hearing the contentions of the parties was of the view that this matter requires to be considered. [Maharaja College, Mathura v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 106, Order dated 25-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Chakradhari Sharan Singh, J., allowed the application which challenged press communiqué issued by State Government whereby NEET qualification was made mandatory for admission to AYUSH courses.

Facts of the case were that petitioner was aggrieved by a press communiqué released by the Health Department, Government of Bihar making NEET mandatory exam for entrance in AYUSH courses. Petitioner contended that the communiqué was provided after the last date of filing form for NEET was over and that requirement for AYUSH courses were distinct from one required in MBBS/BDS courses as NEET is an entrance exam specifically for MBBS and BDS. Whereas respondent defended the communiqué by stating it to be a result of Supreme Court judgment which stated the requirement of a common entrance test for admission to medical courses with a sole purpose of granting admission to meritorious students. The question before Court was to see if NEET qualification can be made a mandatory requirement for admission to AYUSH courses without amending the Indian Medical Council Act, 1970 and regulations thereunder. Court answered the above question by stating that without amendment in Act and Regulation, NEET qualification cannot be made mandatory for entry into other courses than MBBS/BDS.

High Court was of the view that the notification came after the last date for filing the application form of NEET was over and that syllabus and requirement for AYUSH courses were different from MBBS/BDS. The decision of Union government making NEET mandatory for admission to AYUSH (UG) courses was found to be contrary to regulations framed under the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970. With the above view, Court set aside the letter of the Central government and quashed the press communiqué issued by State government. [Vihar Private Unani Medical Colleges v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine Pat 1857, order dated 10-10-2018]