Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a relief to students seeking admission in AIIMS Institutes, the bench of L. Nageswara Rao and AS Bopanna, JJ has directed that a roster point-based reservation for preferential candidates as followed by Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) shall be implemented in all the AIIMS institutes.

AIIMS, New Delhi, submitted before the Court that a roster point-based reservation can be followed for preferential candidates. However, the actual roster point for AIIMS would be different from that of JIPMER. The Court agreed to the submission and observed that the roster points need not be similar to that of JIPMER.

The directions came in the petition filed by a registered AIIMS, Bhopal and the candidates who have appeared for INI-CET examination seeking roster wise/discipline wise seat allocation for institutional preference candidates who seek admission via INI-CET examination. The petitioners had argued before the Court that they are losing out on their preferred discipline as no mechanism for allotment of seats for institutional preference is specified.

[STUDENTS ASSOCIATION AIIMS, BHOPAL v. AIIMS, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 681, order dated 13.05.2022]


For petitioners: Dr Charu Mathur, AOR

Tanvi, Adv

Sanjay Kumar Dubey, Adv

Arvind P. Datar, Sr. Adv.

Pranjal Kishore, Adv.

Rahul Unni Krishnan, Adv.

Paranjay Tripathi, Adv.

Aditya Jain-1, AOR

For Respondent(s): Dushyant Parashar, AOR

Manu Parashar, Adv.

Gaurav Sharma, AOR

Dhawal Mohan, Adv.

Prateek Bhatia, Adv.

S.K. Dubey, Sr. Adv.

K.V. Mohan, AOR

Rajmangal Kumar, Adv.

Rishabh Kr. Thakur, Adv.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where a student had completed 9 semesters of her academic course including clinical training in the medical colleges in China but due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, one semester was completed online and was granted MBBS degrees without any practical and clinical training in physical form, the bench of Hemant Gupta* and V. Ramasubramanian, JJ has held that without practical training, there cannot be any Doctor who is expected to take care of the citizens of the country. Hence, the decision of the National Medical Commission not to grant provisional registration cannot be said to be arbitrary.

It was argued before the Court that since the student has been declared qualified by the Foreign Institute, the only requirement before provisional registration is qualifying in the Screening Test in terms of the Screening Test Regulations, 2002. As she has qualified such Screening Test, therefore, the condition stands satisfied and hence, the decision of the Medical Council not to grant provisional registration is not justified in law. However, as admitted by the student that she had not undergone the practical and clinical training in the physical form, though she had undergone the course through online mode for the entire duration.

The Court observed,

“No doubt, the pandemic has thrown new challenges to the entire world including the students but granting provisional registration to complete internship to a student who has not undergone clinical training would be compromising with the health of the citizens of any country and the health infrastructure at large.”

Concerned with the fate of the student and other similarly situated students, the Court said such national resource cannot be permitted to be wasted which will affect the life of young students, who had taken admission in the foreign Institutes as part of their career prospects. Therefore, the services of the students should be used to augment health infrastructure in the country. Thus, it would be necessary that the students undergo actual clinical training of such duration and at such institutes which are identified by the appellant and on such terms and conditions, including the charges for imparting such training, as may be notified by the National Medical Commission.

Therefore, the Court directed the National Medical Commission

  1. to frame a scheme as a one time measure within two months to allow the student and such similarly situated students who have not actually completed clinical training to undergo clinical training in India in the medical colleges which may be identified by the National Medical Commission for a limited duration as may be specified by the National Medical Commission, on such charges which the National Medical Commission determines.
  2. It shall be open to the National Medical Commission to test the candidates in the scheme so framed in the manner within next one month, which it considers appropriate as to satisfy that such students are sufficiently trained to be provisionally registered to complete internship for 12 months.

[National Medical Commission v. Pooja Thandu Naresh, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 528, decided on 29.04.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Hemant Gupta


Counsels

For National Medical Commission: Senior Advocate Vikas Singh

For Student: Senior Advocate S. Nagamuthu

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench of L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai*, JJ., held that the permission granted to start Post Graduate course for the upcoming academic year after removal of deficiency cannot efface the deficiencies that were found in the previous academic year. Holding the impugned concurrent findings of the Courts below per incuriam, i.e. being passed in complete disregard of relevant judicial precedent, the Bench remarked,

“We are at pains to say that though the judgment in the case of Ayurved Shastra Seva Mandal (supra) was specifically relied on by the appellant herein, the learned Single Judge and the Division Bench of the High Court of Karnataka have chosen to rely on the earlier judgments of the Division Bench of the same High Court rather than a judgment of this Court.”

The Karnataka Ayurveda Medical College (respondent) had applied to the Central Council for Indian Medicine (appellant) for permission to start Post Graduate course for the academic year 2014-15. The appellant granted permission to start five new Post Graduate Ayurvedic disciplines with five seats each in accordance with the then prevalent Indian Medicine Central Council (Post-Graduate Ayurveda Education) Regulations, 2012 which was superseded by the Regulations, 2016.

Consequently, the central government directed the appellant to inspect the facilities available with the respondent in accordance with the relevant Regulations and submit its recommendations and the inspection report to it. The appellant inspected the facilities available with the respondent and pointed out certain deficiencies. Accordingly, a notice was issued to the respondent by central government and after hearing the respondent the central government rejected permission to admit students to the Post Graduate courses for the academic year 2018-19 on the ground of non availability of Central Research Laboratory and Animal House as mandated by the Regulations, 2016.

Findings of the High Court

Aggrieved by the aforesaid decision of the central government, the respondent approached the Karnataka High Court; however in the interregnum, the central government granted permission to admit students for the Post Graduate Course for the academic year 2019-20. Consequently, the High Court, while relying on the decisions of the Division Bench of Karnataka High Court in Bahubali Vidyapeeths JV Mandal Gramin Ayurvedic Medical College v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 3537 and Central Council of Indian Medicine v. Union of India, 2011 SCC OnLine Kar 1389, wherein it was held that if the permission was granted for the subsequent years, the benefit should enure in respect of the previous year also, allowed the said writ petition.

Issue before the Court

The appellant submitted that merely because for the subsequent academic year, the requirements were fulfilled, it could not efface the deficiencies that were found in the previous academic year since the minimum standards, as required, are to be fulfilled for the particular academic year and in the event, such minimum standards are not fulfilled, the institution would not be entitled for permission for the relevant academic year.  Hence, the appellant argued that the view taken by the High Court did not lay down a correct proposition of law.

Analysis and Findings

Chapter IIA containing Sections 13A to 13C by the Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Act, 2003, which deals with “Permission for new Medical College, Course, etc.” lays downs that no medical college can open a new or higher course of study or training, including a postgraduate course, except with the previous permission of the Central Government. Similarly, Regulation 3(1)(a) of the 2016 Regulations specifically provides that the Ayurveda colleges established under Section 13A and existing under Section 13C and their attached hospitals shall fulfill the requirements of minimum standard for infrastructure and teaching and training facilities up to 31st December of every year for consideration of grant of permissions for undertaking admissions in the coming academic session.

Therefore, the Bench observed that if an institution is seeking grant of permission for undertaking admissions for the academic session 2022-23, it must fulfill the requirements of minimum standard as on 31st December 2021. Consequently, the Bench opined that the finding that the permission granted for a subsequent academic year would also enure to the benefit of earlier academic year though the said institution was not fulfilling the criteria of minimum standard was totally erroneous.

Reliance was placed by the Court on Ayurved Shastra Seva Mandal v. Union of India (2013) 16 SCC 696, wherein though the Court noted that a large number of students had applied for admission for the academic year 2011-12 with the leave of the Court, it was held that the privilege granted to the candidates could not be transformed into a right to be admitted in the course for which they had applied and the contention that since the deficiencies stood already removed and the permission was granted for the academic year 2012-13, the said permission should also be construed as having been granted for the academic year 2011-12, was rejected.

Hence, the Bench concluded that the High Court had grossly erred in not taking into consideration the scheme of the Act so also the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Ayurved Shastra Seva Mandal (supra). Accordingly, the impugned judgments and orders were quashed and set aside.

[Central Council for Indian Medicine v. Karnataka Ayurveda Medical College, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 437, decided on 11-04-2022]


*Judgment by: Justice B.R. Gavai


Appearance by:

For the Appellant: Aishwarya Bhati, ASG

For Union of India: Madhavi Divan, ASG

For the Respondent: Chinmay Deshpande, Advocate


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a detailed judgment, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna, JJ has upheld the Constitutional validity of the reservation for OBC candidates in the AIQ seats for PG and UG  medical and dental courses and noticed that while an open competitive exam may ensure formal equality where everyone has an equal opportunity to participate, however, widespread inequalities in the availability of and access to educational facilities will result in the deprivation of certain classes of people who would be unable to effectively compete in such a system.

It is important to note that considering the urgent need to commence the process of Counselling, the Court had, on January 7, 2022, directed that counselling on the basis of NEET-PG 2021 and NEET- UG 2021 shall be conducted by giving effect to the reservation as provided by the notice dated 29 July 2021, including the 27 per cent reservation for the OBC category and 10 per cent reservation for EWS category in the All India Quota seats. Read here

Purpose of Reservation

The underlying rationale of the reservation policy that seeks to remedy the structural barriers that disadvantaged groups face in advancing in society. Reservation is one of the measures that is employed to overcome these barriers. The individual difference may be a result of privilege, fortune, or circumstances but it cannot be used to negate the role of reservation in remedying the structural disadvantage that certain groups suffer.

Special provisions (like reservation) enable disadvantaged classes to overcome the barriers they face in effectively competing with forward classes and thus ensuring substantive equality. The privileges that accrue to forward classes are not limited to having access to quality schooling and access to tutorials and coaching centres to prepare for a competitive examination but also includes their social networks and cultural capital (communication skills, accent, books or academic accomplishments) that they inherit from their family. The cultural capital ensures that a child is trained unconsciously by the familial environment to take up higher education or high posts commensurate with their family‘s standing. This works to the disadvantage of individuals who are first-generation learners and come from communities whose traditional occupations do not result in the transmission of necessary skills required to perform well in open examination. They have to put in surplus effort to compete with their peers from the forward communities.

On the other hand, social networks (based on community linkages) become useful when individuals seek guidance and advise on how to prepare for examination and advance in their career even if their immediate family does not have the necessary exposure. Thus, a combination of family habitus, community linkages and inherited skills work to the advantage of individuals belonging to certain classes, which is then classified as “merit” reproducing and reaffirming social hierarchies.

What is “merit”?

““Merit” is not solely of one‘s own making. The rhetoric surrounding merit obscures the way in which family, schooling, fortune and a gift of talents that the society currently values aids in one‘s advancement.”

Thus, the exclusionary standard of merit serves to denigrate the dignity of those who face barriers in their advancement which are not of their own making. However,

“While examinations are a necessary and convenient method of distributing educational opportunities, marks may not always be the best gauge of individual merit. Even then marks are often used as a proxy for merit. Individual calibre transcends performance in an examination. Standardized measures such as examination results are not the most accurate assessment of the qualitative difference between candidates.”

At the best, an examination can only reflect the current competence of an individual but not the gamut of their potential, capabilities or excellence, which are also shaped by lived experiences, subsequent training and individual character.

Hence, the meaning of “merit” itself cannot be reduced to marks even if it is a convenient way of distributing educational resources. When examinations claim to be more than systems of resource allocation, they produce a warped system of ascertaining the worth of individuals as students or professionals. Additionally, since success in examinations results in the ascription of high social status as a “meritorious individual”, they often perpetuate and reinforce the existing ascriptive identities of certain communities as “intellectual” and “competent” by rendering invisible the social, cultural and economic advantages that increase the probabilities of success.

For instance, if a high-scoring candidate does not use their talents to perform good actions, it would be difficult to call them “meritorious” merely because they scored high marks. The propriety of actions and dedication to public service should also be seen as markers of merit, which cannot be assessed in a competitive examination. Equally, fortitude and resilience required to uplift oneself from conditions of deprivation is reflective of individual calibre.

Hence. merit should not be limited to individual agency or but it should be envisioned as a social good that advances equality because that is the value that our Constitution espouses.

Whether after graduation, an individual is entitled to reservation on the ground that they belong to a class that suffers from social and educational backwardness?

The Court observed that it cannot be said that the impact of backwardness simply disappears because a candidate has a graduate qualification. Indeed, a graduate qualification may provide certain social and economic mobility, but that by itself does not create parity between forward classes and backward classes. In any event, there cannot be an assertion of over-inclusion where undeserving candidates are said to be benefitting from reservation because OBC candidates who fall in the creamy layer are excluded from taking the benefit of reservation. Thus, we find that there is no prohibition in introducing reservation for socially and educationally backward classes (or the OBCs) in PG courses.

Why is reservation for OBC candidates in the AIQ seats for UG and PG medical and dental courses constitutionally valid?

  • Articles 15(4) and 15 (5) are not an exception to Article 15 (1), which itself sets out the principle of substantive equality (including the recognition of existing inequalities). Thus, Articles 15 (4) and 15 (5) become a restatement of a particular facet of the rule of substantive equality that has been set out in Article 15 (1);
  • Merit cannot be reduced to narrow definitions of performance in an open competitive examination which only provides formal equality of opportunity. Competitive examinations assess basic current competency to allocate educational resources but are not reflective of excellence, capabilities and potential of an individual which are also shaped by lived experiences, subsequent training and individual character. Crucially, open competitive examinations do not reflect the social, economic and cultural advantage that accrues to certain classes and contributes to their success in such examinations;
  • High scores in an examination are not a proxy for merit. Merit should be socially contextualized and reconceptualized as an instrument that advances social goods like equality that we as a society value. In such a context, reservation is not at odds with merit but furthers its distributive consequences;
  • Articles 15 (4) and 15 (5) employ group identification as a method through which substantive equality can be achieved. This may lead to an incongruity where certain individual members of an identified group that is being given reservation may not be backward or individuals belonging to the non-identified group may share certain characteristics of backwardness with members of an identified group. The individual difference may be a result of privilege, fortune, or circumstances but it cannot be used to negate the role of reservation in remedying the structural disadvantage that certain groups suffer;
  • The scheme of AIQ was devised to allot seats in State-run medical and dental institutions in which students from across the country could compete. Providing reservation in the AIQ seats is a policy decision of the Government, which will be subject to the contours of judicial review similar to every reservation policy;
  • Clause 11 of the information bulletin specifies that the reservation applicable to NEET-PG would be notified by the counselling authority before the beginning of the counselling process. Therefore, the candidates while applying for NEET-PG are not provided any information on the distribution of seat matrix. Such information is provided by the counselling authority only before the counselling session is to begin. It thus cannot be argued that the rules of the game were set when the registration for the examination closed.

[Neil Aurelio Nunes v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 75, decided on 20.01.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud


Counsels

For petitioners: Senior Advocates Arvind Datar, Shyam Divan and Anand Grover and AORs Charu Mathur, Vivek Singh, Subodh S. Patil

For Respondents: SG Tushar Mehta, ASG Nataraj, Additional Solicitor General, ASG Vikramajit Banerjee and Senior Advocates P Wilson, Mariarputham

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Considering the urgent need to commence the process of Counselling, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and AS Bopanna, JJ, has directed that counselling on the basis of NEET-PG 2021 and NEET- UG 2021 shall be conducted by giving effect to the reservation as provided by the notice dated 29 July 2021, including the 27 per cent reservation for the OBC category and 10 per cent reservation for EWS category in the All India Quota seats.

The order came after the notice issued by the Directorate General of Health Services in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on 29 July 2021 was challenged by the doctors who appeared in the NEET- PG 2021 examination.

The notice implements a 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes1 (non-creamy layer) and a 10 per cent reservation for the Economically Weaker Section, while filling up 15 per cent undergraduate and 50 per cent post-graduate All India Quota seats in pursuance of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test. The notice takes effect from the current admission year, 2021-2022.

It was argued before the Court that there cannot be any reservation for the OBC and EWS category in the AIQ seats in NEET-PG and that the criteria for the determination of the EWS category notified by O.M 36039/1/2019 (OM 2019) was unconstitutional.

On 25 October 2021, the Union Government of its own accord deferred the counselling due to the pendency of the petitions. Thereafter, the Union Government filed an affidavit justifying the EWS criteria on 26 October 2021 stating that the criteria was adopted after due deliberation within the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and all the concerned stakeholders.

The Union Government formed the Panday Committee on 30 November 2021 to review the criteria for identifying EWS. The Committee submitted its report on 31 December 2021. Thereafter, the Union Government filed an affidavit before this Court accepting the recommendations of the Committee including the recommendation that the existing criteria for identifying EWS be retained for the present admission year 2021-2022.

While the Supreme Court observed that the formulation of the reasons in the interim order on the EWS reservation would take some time, it upheld the validity of the OBC reservation in the AIQ seats in NEET-PG and NEET-UG and directed that the counselling be conducted in order to ensure that the admission process is not dislocated.

The Court further directed that,

  • The criteria for the determination of the EWS notified by OM 2019 shall be used for identifying the EWS category for candidates who appeared for the NEET-PG 2021 and NEET-UG 2021 examinations;
  • The validity of the criteria determined by the Pandey Committee for identification of EWS would prospectively for the future be subject to the final result of the petitions; and
  • The petitions shall be listed for final hearing on the validity of the EWS criteria as recommended by the Pandey Committee in the third week of March 2022.

[Neil Aurelio Nunes v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 21, decided on 07.01.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud

Counsels

For petitioners: Senior Advocates Arvind Datar, Shyam Divan and Anand Grover and AORs Charu Mathur, Vivek Singh, Subodh S. Patil

For Respondents: SG Tushar Mehta, ASG Nataraj, Additional Solicitor General, ASG Vikramajit Banerjee and Senior Advocates P Wilson, Mariarputham

Kerala High Court
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 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 3-Judge Bench comprising of L. Nageswara Rao*, S. Abdul Nazeer and Indu Malhotra, JJ., dismissed the appeal filed by Chintpurni Medical College and Hospital for seeking permission for admitting students for the academic year 2021-2022. The Bench stated,

“There is no merit in the contention of the Appellants that admissions for the academic year 2019-2020 should be considered without any further inspection as the debarment by the notification dated 26-09-2016 was only for a period of two years.”

Background

Government of India granted letter of permission to the Appellant-College on 30-06-2011 for intake of 150 students in MBBS course for the academic year 2011-2012. As the inspections carried out by the Medical Council of India revealed gross deficiencies of the teaching faculty, clinical material and the other physical facilities in the medical college, it recommended that renewal of permission should not be granted to the Appellant-College for the academic years 2012-2013 to 2014-2015 which was accepted by the government.

Meanwhile, on 18-09-2014 in the case of Hind Charitable Trust Shekhar Hospital Private Ltd. v. Union of India, (2015) 2 SCC 336, this Court permitted private medical colleges whose application for renewal of permission was disapproved to make admissions, subject to the undertaking by the President/Chairman and Secretary of the Medical College that there was no deficiency existing in the medical college. Pursuant to which the Appellant-College submitted an undertaking that there was no deficiency existing in the facilities and that in the event of any deficiency being found in the inspection, the bank guarantee of Rs.9.5 Crores should be forfeited. Consequently, the Appellant-College was permitted to admit students for the academic year 2014-2015.

After noticing gross deficiencies, government debarred the Appellant-College for two years i.e. 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 from admitting students and allowed Medical Council of India to forfeit the bank guarantee. Students who were admitted in the first Appellant-College during the years 2011-2012, 2014-2015 and 2016-2017 were shifted to other colleges.

Thereafter, the appellant requested Medical Council of India to permit admission of 150 students in MBBS course for the academic year 2019-2020 which was rejected by the Council. Aggrieved by the same, the Appellant filed a petition in the High Court of Delhi which was dismissed.

Observation and Decision

The Bench observed the findings of High Court that there was no merit in the contention of the Appellants that admissions for the academic year 2019-2020 should be considered without any further inspection as the debarment by the notification dated 26-09-2016 was only for a period of two years. The Bench clarified the order of High Court stating that the Court had merely allowed the appellants to pursue their request for permission for the academic years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. It did not mean that the appellants were entitled to admit students for the academic year 2019-2020 without an inspection. The Bench stated,

A bare look of inspections conducted from the years 2011-2012 had made it clear that the Appellants had not utilized the opportunities given to them to rectify the deficiencies in the past.

In the view of above, the instant appeal was dismissed and findings of the High Court were upheld. The Bench further clarified that the appellant-College should be entitled for admissions for the academic year 2021-2022 only if renewal of the recognition is granted to the appellant-College and it is found that there are no deficiencies like infrastructure, clinical, teaching faculty and other facilities. [Chintpurni Medical College and Hospital v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 45, decided on 28-01-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this story together. 

*Justice L. Nageswara Rao has penned this judgment

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 Bench comprising of Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran, JJ., allowed the appeals pertaining to the admission of appellants under the physically handicapped category for the next year.

The facts of the case are that the appellants were not given admission in the physically handicapped category due to the recommendations given by the Medical Council of India (MCI). Though the regulations framed by the MCI also adopts the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016 (RPWD).

The Apex Court while noting the facts of the case, cited the case of Purswani Ashutosh v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1717, in which it was held that “statutory provisions have to prevail over the recommendations made by the Committee as the recommendations made have not taken statutory shape so far.” Hence, the Court stated that all the seats have been filled as of now and the appellants have been illegally deprived of the admission.

The Court directed that appellants be admitted for the MBBS Course next year in a government medical college and the general category seats be reduced next year i.e. 2019-2020 as the seats of the physically disabled were given to the general category this year due to which they were deprived of the admission.

The impugned Punjab and Haryana High Court orders were set aside and appeals were allowed by stating the present order to be ‘conclusive and binding’. [Parmod v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1919, Order dated 09-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Vibhu Bhakru, J. dismissed a writ petition filed for recovering the application fee deposited with the Medical Council of India for establishment of a new medical college.

The petitioner had filed an application for establishing a new medical college before the MCI for the academic year commencing from 2014. However, the MCI rejected the application. Thereafter, the petitioner filed an application for refund of the application fee deposited, which application was also rejected. Aggrieved thus, the petitioner filed the instant petition for recovery of Rs 7 lakhs deposited as application fee along with interest thereon.

The High Court referred to Regulation 4 of the Establishment of Medical College Regulations, 1999. It was apparent on reading the said regulation that the application fee was non-refundable. On this count alone, the instant petition was liable to be dismissed. However, the High Court also noted that the petition was filed after more than four years from the date when the application was rejected by the MCI. Since the petition was filed after the period of limitation (3 years), the action was barred by the limitation, there being no credible explanation for the delay. It was observed that although Limitation Act, 1963 may not strictly apply to proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution, however, it is a settled law that the courts do not extend the discretionary remedy to applicants who have failed to approach the court within time. Furthermore, recourse to proceedings under the Article is not available for recovering any amount where suit for recovery of that amount would be barred by limitation. In view of the aforementioned, the Court dismissed the petition. [Dr R.N. Gupta Technical Educational Society v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine Del 10749, dated 17-08-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Considering the seriousness and urgency of the matter wherein it was alleged that attempts were made to bribe some Supreme Court judges in the matters relating to Medical admission scam, the bench of J Chelameswar and S. Abdul Nazeer, JJ said that the matter be heard by the Constitution Bench of the first five Judges and listed the matter on November 13, 2017.

The petition filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal highlighted that a case was registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation against Retired Orissa High Court Judge, Justice IM Quddusi containing serious allegations implicating the said Judge under Section 8 and Section 120 B of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The Court, hence, agreed to hear the matter and said:

“The FIR contained certain allegations which are disturbing. The allegations pertain to the functioning of this Court. On perusal of the FIR which was placed before us in the morning, we thought it necessary and proper to take up the matter immediately.”

As an interim measure, the Court directed that the case diary and all the related materials be kept in a sealed cover and produce the same before the Constitution Bench on Monday, the 13th November, 2017.

The controversy relates to de-registration of 46 medical colleges by Central Government for substandard facilities. In September, 2017, CBI arrested the former High Court judge on allegations of hatching a conspiracy to bribe public officials, including Supreme Court judges after Supreme debarred the colleges from admitting students for academic years 2017-18 and 2018-19. [Kamini Jaiswal v. Union of India, Writ Petition(s)(Criminal) No(s). 176/2017, order dated 09.11.2017]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The bench of Dipak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ directed the State of Gujarat to give 50 per cent reservation to the in-service candidates for admission to post-graduate medical diploma courses as per the regulations of the Medical Council of India. The reservation is to be granted in the second round of counselling, starting tomorrow for admissions in PG courses. The Court also asked the State Government to define remote rural or difficult areas in which the in-service medical officers will be working.

The in-service medical candidates had challenged the State’s order of granting only 25 per cent reservation to the in-service candidates for admission in PG medical diploma courses. The candidates had pleaded that as per regulation VII of the MCI Regulations, 2000, it is mandatory for the state to reserve 50 per cent of the total seats of government medical college in Post Graduate Diploma Courses for medical officers in the government service, who has served at least 3 years in remote and/or difficult areas.

The Gujarat High Court had, on 05.05.2017, dismissed the petition of in-service medical petitioners on the ground that it was not mandatory for the State Government to follow the rules and regulations issued by the Medical Council of India, particularly the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000.

Source: PTI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Setting aside the admission of the petitioner to the Christian Medical College in the State of Chhattisgarh, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and P.C. Pant, JJ said that the Court cannot go against the orders passed by this Court from time to time only for the benefit of the students.

The petitioner and some other students had obtained admission to the medical college after clearing the CGMAT-2016. However, on 21.12.2010 a gazette notification was issued by the Medical Council of India amending the “Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997” to the effect, inter alia, that admissions to the MBBS course shall be based solely on marks obtained in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test.

The petitioner had contended that he had already been granted admission by the College after the examination CGMAT-2016 was conducted by the College and supervised and monitored by the State of Chhattisgarh and in which there were no allegations of impropriety, his admission should not be disturbed. Rejecting the said contention, the Court said that the question is not of any impropriety in the conduct of the examination but the question is really one of adhering to a particular discipline laid down by the Medical Council of India and approved by this Court. The Court said the plight of the petitioner is unfortunate but it cannot be helped.

Considering the fact that some similarly placed students participated in NEET and qualified in the examination, the Court said that those students who did not participate in NEET and placed their trust only in the College and the State of Chhattisgarh took a gamble and that gamble have unfortunately not succeeded. [Rishabh Choudhary v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 53, decided on 23.01.2017]