Delay in Approaching High Court: SC Sets aside HC order granting MBBS admission to NEET 2019 candidates
New Delhi: Clarifying that in order to avail restitutional remedy in medical admission the students need to approach the Court "at the earliest and without any delay," the Supreme Court has recently set aside the HC order allowing MBBS admission to NEET 2019 candidates.
"We are aware that the interference by this Court would cause loss of an academic year to the students. However, we cannot support the judgment of the High Court in granting admission for the year 2020- 2021 as it is contrary to the judgment of this Court," the bench said.
The decision comes in view of the plea filed by the erstwhile Medical Council of India (now National Medical Commission) challenging the High Court orders directing to admit students who appeared for NEET-UG 2019 to the academic year 2020-21.
The case concerned the MBBS admission of some students who had appeared in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (Under Graduate) examination back in 2019. However, they failed to get admitted to the MBBS course even after the counselling process ended.
Following this, the students presented representations to the concerned authorities that other students with lesser merit have been given admission to the MBBS course for the academic year 2019-2020. As their pleas went unheeded, they approached the High Court by filing a writ petition seeking admission to the first year MBBS course.
Responding to their pleas, the High Court directed the authorities to admit these students to the first year MBBS course for the year 2020-2021 in the vacant seats that existed for the academic year 2019-2020. Following this, the students started attending first-year MBBS classes that commenced on 01.02.2021.
However, challenging the order dated 09.02.2021, the National Medical Commission approached the Supreme Court and contended that the High Court committed an error in directing the admission of these students in the vacancies that arose in the academic year 2019-2020.
The counsel for NMC argued that the Apex Court judgment in S. Krishna Sradha v. The State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors. reported in 2019 SCC Online SC 1609 cannot come to the rescue of the respondents as they approached the High Court one and a half year after the last date of admission for the academic year 2019- 2020.
On the other hand, the counsel representing the students submitted before the SC bench that the vacant seats which existed for the year 2019-2020 were not notified even during the mop-up counselling. The students were not aware of the vacant seats.
The counsel for the students further submitted that the students immediately preferred representations before the concerned authorities once they learnt that the vacant seats were available. However, as their representations went unheard, the students had to approach the High Court.
He argued that there is no dispute that students who were less meritorious have been given admission in the first year MBBS course for the academic year 2019-2020.
Thus, the counsel appearing for the students requested the court to permit the students to continue their course and appear in the first year examination, especially when there is no dispute about the existence of vacant seats for the year 2019-2020.
The counsel appearing for the concerned University also agreed that there were vacant seats for the academic year 2019-2020 which were unfilled.
After listening to these contentions, the Supreme Court bench agreed that a few vacant seats were available for admission for the year 2019-2020 and to the fact that students who were less meritorious than the writ petitioners have been granted admission in the year 2019-2020.
However, noting that the students wishing to get admitted to the MBBS course for the academic year 2019-2020 approached the Court only in January, 2021, the bench observed,
"In S. Krishna Sradha v. The State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors. (supra), this Court highlighted the need for providing restitutional remedy in rare cases. However, the conditions for grant of relief or for seeking admission to the available courses after the last date have been mentioned in para 33 of the judgment. One crucial condition is that the student has to approach the Court at the earliest and without any delay. It was further mentioned in the judgment that in case admission is directed to be given to the students, the number of seats allotted in the management quota for the next year has to be reduced."
"The direction given by the High Court pertains to the admission for the academic year 2019-2020. The High Court ought not to have shown indulgence to the writ petitioners by directing admission in the vacant seats that arose in the year 2019-2020 and permit the students to start their course in the academic year 2020-2021," added the bench.
Finally, setting aside the judgment of the High Court, the SC bench noted,
'We are aware that the interference by this Court would cause loss of an academic year to the students. However, we cannot support the judgment of the High Court in granting admission for the year 2020- 2021 as it is contrary to the judgment of this Court in S. Krishna Sradha (supra) case. The students approached the High Court almost one and a half year after the last date of admission of the first year MBBS course for the academic year 2019-2020."
To read the original order of the Supreme Court, click on the link below.