MBBS Admission May be given to Meritorious candidate even after cut-off date: Supreme Court
New Delhi: In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court has recently held that a direction can be issued in exceptional case for granting MBBS admission to meritorious candidates even after cut-off date has expired.
The observation was made so as to see no meritorious candidate suffer after being denied an MBBS admission illegally or irrationally by the authorities for no fault of his/her and who approached the Court in time.
The Supreme Court was approached after conflicting opinions were raised during a hearing of an MBBS student's plea who was denied admission due priority in admission into MBBS Course.
The case goes back to the year 2015 when the petitioner medico approached the High Court seeking admission in the reserved quota of sports and games category. It was found that at the time the petition was heard, the Academic Session for the year in question already commenced from 01.09.2015 and as per the decision of SC, the last date for admission was 30.09.2015, the High Court considering this decision in the case Jasmine Kaur (Supra) observed that no direction can be issued to the medico for grant of admission for the Academic Session 2015-16.
However, relying upon the decision of this Court in the case of Jasmine Kaur (Supra), the High Court granted compensation of Rs 5 lakhs.
It is required to be noted that the High Court came to a categorical and unequivocal conclusion that the appellant was entitled to get priority. It was also found that the appellant was more meritorious than others on the basis of the marks obtained. However, the High Court denied the admission solely on the ground that the time limit has expired.
In the case of Asha vs Pt. B.D. Sharma case, it was held that in rarest of rare cases, when the Court returns the finding:
- no fault is attributable to the candidate;
- the candidate has pursued her rights and legal remedies expeditiously and without delay;
- where there is fault on the part of the authorities and apparent breach of rules and regulations,
-- an exception may be made to 30th September cut-off date and in an exceptional case, the Court can direct for admission even in a case where cut-off date as directed by the Court had expired.
However, in the other case, a contrary view was observed that in such a situation grant of compensation is the only relief which can be granted and which a candidate is entitled to.
The counsel appearing for the candidate submitted even in a case where a candidate is meritorious and though entitled to admission, but denied by the authorities illegally and irrationally and though no fault is attributable to the candidate and the candidate has pursued his/her rights and legal remedies expeditiously and without delay and when there is fault on the part of the authorities and apparent breach of rules and regulations, to deny the admission would be injustice to such a meritorious candidate and punishing him/her for no fault of him/her. It is submitted that it is therefore rightly observed in the case of Asha (Supra) that in rarest of rare cases, the Court can while exercising powers under Article 226 and/or under Article 32 of the Constitution of India can direct to grant admission despite the fact that the time for admission has expired.
It was submitted that compensation for loss of year could be provided but denial of admissions to the meritorious candidate, even after the cutoff date in exceptional circumstances, set out in para 32 in Asha (Supra) cannot be compensated in monetary terms.
It was submitted that the compensation cannot be the only remedy as observed by this Court in the case of Jasmine Kaur (Supra).
The SC bench observed that in the case of the petitioner, denial of admission in the medical course to a meritorious candidate for no fault of his/her and though he/she has approached the Court in time and despite the same not granting any just and equitable relief would be a denial of justice.
The right to equal and fair treatment is a component of Article 14 of the Constitution. As held by this Court Asha (Supra) that a transparent and fair procedure is the duty of every legal authority connected with admissions. In such cases, denial of fair treatment to the candidate would not only violate his/her right under Article 14 but would seriously jeopardize his/her right under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. A natural corollary of declaring that an administrative act more particularly the denial of admission illegally and for no fault of a candidate/student violates principles of Article 14 is that the citizen injured must be put back to his/her original position. In that sense, the primary relief is restitutionary.
As observed hereinabove, for a meritorious student seeking admission in medical course is very important in the life of student/candidate and denial of admission to a meritorious candidate though no fault of his/her violates his/her fundamental rights. Compensation could be an additional remedy but not a substitute for restitutionary remedies.
In case of medical admissions, even the restitutionary remedy of providing a seat in the subsequent year would lead to loss of one full academic year to a meritorious candidate, which cannot be compensated in real terms. Thus compensation for loss of year could be provided, but denial of admissions to a meritorious candidate cannot be compensated in monetary terms.
The question that had arisen before the bench was what relief the Court can grant by which right to equal and fair treatment to a candidate are protected and at the same time neither there is injustice to other student and even compromising with the quality education.
Noting that a balance is required to be struck in these cases, the bench observed:
the view taken by this Court in Jasmine Kaur (Supra) that the only relief which can be granted to such a candidate would be the compensation only is not good law and cannot be accepted. Even granting a relief to such a candidate/student in the next academic year and to accommodate him/her in the next year and in the sanctioned intake may even affect the right of some other candidate/student seeking admission in the next academic year and that too for no fault of his/her. Therefore we are of the view that in the exceptional and in the rarest of rare cases and in case where all the conditions stipulated in paragraph 33.3 in the case of Jasmine Kaur (Supra) are satisfied, the Court can grant exceptional relief to the candidate of granting admission even after the cut off date is over.
In light of the observations made by the bench during the hearing, a meritorious candidate who had been denied an MBBS admission illegally or irrationally by the authorities for no fault of his/her and who approached the Court in time and so as to see that such a meritorious candidate may not have to suffer for no fault of his/her, the Supreme Court answered the reference as under:
That in a case where candidate/student has approached the court at the earliest and without any delay and that the question is with respect to the admission in the medical course all the efforts shall be made by the concerned court to dispose of the proceedings by giving priority and at the earliest
Under exceptional circumstances, if the court finds that there is no fault attributable to the candidate and the candidate has pursued his/her legal right expeditiously without any delay and there is fault only on the part of the authorities and/or there is apparent breach of rules and regulations as well as related principles in the process of grant of admission which would violate the right of equality and equal treatment to the competing candidates and if the time schedule prescribed – 30th September, is over, to do the complete justice, the Court under exceptional circumstances and in rarest of rare cases direct the admission in the same year by directing to increase the seats, however, it should not be more than one or two seats and such admissions can be ordered within reasonable time, i.e., within one month from 30th September, i.e., cut off date and under no circumstances, the Court shall order any Admission in the same year beyond 30th October. However, it is observed that such relief can be granted only in exceptional circumstances and in the rarest of rare cases. In case of such an eventuality, the Court may also pass an order cancelling the admission given to a candidate who is at the bottom of the merit list of the category who, if the admission would have been given to a more meritorious candidate who has been denied admission illegally, would not have got the admission, if the Court deems it fit and proper, however, after giving an opportunity of hearing to a student whose admission is sought to be cancelled.
In case the Court is of the opinion that no relief of admission can be granted to such a candidate in the very academic year and wherever it finds that the action of the authorities has been arbitrary and in breach of the rules and regulations or the prospectus affecting the rights of the students and that a candidate is found to be meritorious and such candidate/student has approached the court at the earliest and without any delay, the court can mould the relief and direct the admission to be granted to such a candidate in the next academic year by issuing appropriate directions by directing to increase in the number of seats as may be considered appropriate in the case and in case of such an eventuality and if it is found that the management was at fault and wrongly denied the admission to the meritorious candidate, in that case, the Court may direct to reduce the number of seats in the management quota of that year, meaning thereby the student/students who was/were denied admission illegally to be accommodated in the next academic year out of the seats allotted in the management quota.
Grant of the compensation could be an additional remedy but not a substitute for restitutional remedies. Therefore, in an appropriate case the Court may award the compensation to such a meritorious candidate who for no fault of his/her has to lose one full academic year and who could not be granted any relief of admission in the same academic year.
It is clarified that the aforesaid directions pertain for Admission in MBBS Course only and we have not dealt with Post Graduate Medical Course.
Honourable Justice Arun Mishra and MR Shah hence overruled the decision made in the case of Jasmine Kaur (Supra) or any other decisions contrary to the above ruling. The decision of the Court in the case of Asha (Supra) was hereby affirmed to the aforesaid extent.