New Delhi: The apex court is soon going to take a call on an important issue of whether there should be Institutional Quota in PG medical admissions. This comes after the issue came up before a double bench of the court and the hon’ble judges referred the matter to be given to a higher bench to decide.
The direction was passed after the bench heard the petitions filed by a group of medical students challenging a judgment passed by the Gujarat High Court in February in this regard last year.
Earlier, before the Gujrat High Court, the petitioners challenged the Rules framed by the Gujarat University, providing preference to candidates graduating from the Gujrat varsity for granting admissions to various Post Graduate Degree and Diploma courses in each subject in Government Institution / Colleges.
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It was submitted by the petitioners that National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) was designed in order to ensure that there exists no other criterion except for merit for admissions to Post Graduate and Under Graduate courses.
However, the court decided against the petitioners and ruled that the Supreme Court authorities upholding institutional preference in admissions would prevail despite the introduction of NEET. It stated,
“Although it is pleaded that in view of changed circumstances, it requires reconsideration, but in view of binding judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court on the subject, we are compelled to reject such contention and reject the petition by following judgments already referred to.
…. We also do not find any merit in the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner that the impugned rules which are framed by 3rd respondent are arbitrary and/or breach of rights guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution of India so as to declare said rules as illegal.”
Disappointed with the said judgment, the students moved the apex court. During the hearing, the petitioners once again submitted that Regulation 9 of the Post-Graduate Medical Education Admission Regulation, 2000 and the introduction of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) brings about the change to the effect that all admissions in post-graduate medical courses should be only on the basis of merit as per NEET scores.
The counsel for the petitioners informed the court that earlier, a three-judge Bench of the Apex Court had made interim arrangements for the year 2017-18 for admissions to post-graduate medical courses by institutional quota.
Live Law reports that on the other side, the counsel appearing for Delhi University, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University and University of Gujarat, submitted that the matter can be decided by the Division Bench, relying on the decision in the case of Saurabh Chaudri & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors, wherein a five-Judge Constitution Bench had upheld institutional preference in post-graduate medical courses by stating,
“As regards the scope of reservation of seats in educational institutions affiliated and recognised by State Universities, the constitutional prescription of reservation of 50% of the available seats has to be respected and enforced.
The institutional preference should be limited to 50% and the rest being left for open competition based purely on merits on an All India basis.”
Finding it a much larger issue which will most probably change the medical education system of the nation, the two-judge bench of honourable Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice M Shantanagoudar opined that the matter should be referred to a larger Bench and ordered,
“However, in view of the importance of the issue involved in these petitions, we are of the considered opinion that these matters have to be heard by a larger Bench. The Office is directed to place the papers before Hon’ble the Chief Justice for suitable orders for reference to a larger Bench.”
Recently, the said matter of institutional quota was observed by the two-judge bench comprising honourable Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice M Shantanagoudar, who directed the papers to be placed before the Chief Justice of India for suitable orders.