HC relief to Navodaya Medical College, seat matrix quashed, KEA to conduct fresh Round 2 Counselling
Kalaburgi: Providing relief Navodaya Medical College, the Karnataka High Court recently quashed the revised seat matrix for UG and PG courses in medicine, published by the State on January 31, by which only Telugu Linguistic minority students belonging to Hyderabad-Karnataka region were allowed to apply in a Linguistic minority institution located in that region. The order was passed...
Kalaburgi: Providing relief Navodaya Medical College, the Karnataka High Court recently quashed the revised seat matrix for UG and PG courses in medicine, published by the State on January 31, by which only Telugu Linguistic minority students belonging to Hyderabad-Karnataka region were allowed to apply in a Linguistic minority institution located in that region.
The order was passed by the HC bench comprising of Justice K. Somashekar and Justice Anant Ramanath Hegde, which noted that "The impugned communication dated 31.01.2022 marked at Annexure-L and revised seat matrix at Annexure L1 in Writ Petition No.200345/2022 are quashed in so far as it is applicable to the petitioner's institution."
Further quashing the impugned revised seat matrix in so far as it is applicable for the college, the bench further directed Karnataka Education Authority to conduct the second round of counselling afresh, permitting eligible Telugu linguistic minority students in the State of Karnataka to apply for admission to undergraduate and postgraduate courses in medicine, in the petitioner's institution.
However, the bench clarified that the admissions made in the petitioner college on the basis of the 1st round of counselling are valid.
The petitioner college is a Telugu linguistic minority institution and it approached the court seeking to enforce its rights under the consensual agreement dated 19.01.2022 among the State and Association of Minority Professional Colleges in Karnataka and Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences.
The agreement has statutory flavor and support in terms of Section 4A of Karnataka Professional Educational Institutions (Regulations of Admission and Determination of Fee) Act, 2006 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act of 2006').
Approaching the High Court, the college sought to quash the revised seat matrix for admission to postgraduate and undergraduate courses in medicine for the academic year 2021-2022.
As a result of the revised seat matrix, only Telugu Linguistic minority students residing in Hyderabad-Karnataka region are allowed to apply for admission for the postgraduate course in medicine in a Linguistic minority institution located in Hyderabad-Karnataka region. Telugu Linguistic minority students residing outside Hyderabad Karnataka region are not allowed to seek admission under the Telugu Linguistic minority quota in the petitioner college.
The petitioner further prayed for a writ of mandamus against Karnataka Education Authority with a direction to hold counseling for admission to a postgraduate and undergraduate course in Medicine by allowing eligible Telugu linguistic minority students in the entire State of Karnataka to apply for postgraduate and undergraduate seats in Medicine in the petitioner's institution.
Further, the plea also sought a declaration that the State has no authority to classify the seats reserved for Telugu Linguistic minority students in the petitioner's institution, as the seats available for admission only to Telugu linguistic minority students from the Hyderabad-Karnataka region.
The court had earlier passed a stay order staying all further proceedings under the impugned seat matrix. Subsequently, on an application filed by the respondents, vide order dated 24.02.2022, the earlier interim order was partially modified.
During the hearing of the case senior Counsel Sri Madhusudhan Nayak appearing for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner college is is admittedly a linguistic minority institution and is having certain protection under Article 15(6) and 30 of the Constitution of India and the impugned seat matrix violates the rights guaranteed under the aforementioned articles.
The institution is established in Karnataka for the benefit of Telugu linguistic minorities in the entire State of Karnataka. In terms of Rule 2016 referred above, the institution is under obligation to reserve a certain specified percentage of seats (66% of the 55% seats allotted to the institution) for Telugu speaking students in Karnataka as such the revised seat matrix which restricts the reservation only to Telugu minority students from Hyderabad Karnataka is illegal and contrary to Rule 4 (6) of Rules 2016, it was further argued.
It was further contended by the petitioner that the "the State is acting contrary to the terms of the
consensual agreement wherein it has agreed that institutions have no obligation to reserve seats under Article 371J quota out of 55% of seats available at the disposal of the institution. And State having agreed to fulfil its obligation under Article 371J, in the seats surrendered by the institution in favour of the State (20% and 25% for postgraduate and undergraduate courses respectively) has unilaterally modified the seat matrix contrary to the terms of the agreement."
Referring to the vires of the Order of 2013 passed under Article 371 J of the Constitution of India the counsel for the petitioner college pointed out that in those cases, the court had passed an interim order staying the operation of the Order of 2013. So, it was argued that there was no law/policy of the State in force that enable the State to implement its reservation policy as required under Article 371J.
The contentions also included the fact that the revised seat matrix ignored all meritorious Telugu minority students in Karnataka violating the terms of the consensual agreement.
On the other hand, the State contended that it has revised the seat matrix in tune with the requirement of the agreement and the institute was claiming rights contrary to the terms of the consensual agreement.
It was further argued that the consensual agreement in spirit is nothing but a step towards implementing the State's obligation under Article 371J of the Constitution of India and the same is binding on the petitioner.
"In terms of the agreement, the petitioner is bound to provide reservations to Telugu linguistic minority students from Hyderabad Region and not to the Telugu minority students who are outside Hyderabad Karnataka though they are residing in Karnataka," it was further contended.
Further, the state pointed out that the college could not challenge the consensual agreement and as a result the petition itself was not maintainable.
Meanwhile, advocate Sri N.K. Ramesh, appearing on behalf of Karnataka Educational Authority while agreeing with the State's submission pointed out that the terms and conditions of the agreement would demonstrate that the petitioner institute as consented to provide reservation as mandated under Article 371 J. Thus, Telugu speaking linguistic minority students cannot claim reservation in an institution located in Hyderabad-Karnataka region if the students are not from Hyderabad-Karnataka region.
Apart from this, KEA also argued that the petitioner college was not a party to the consensual agreement as it was between State and the Association. Since, the Association has not questioned the action, the petitioner could not be allowed to question it.
After taking note of the submissions made by all the parties, the court referred to the Article 371J of the Constitution of India and noted, "it is apparent that the policy of the State under Article 371J of the Constitution of India can be formulated and implemented only through the mechanism provided under Article 371J. Said mechanism contemplates an order by the Hon'ble President of India, conferring the responsibility on the Governor, who in turn, has to pass necessary order in conformity with the requirement of Article 371J of the Constitution of India spelt out in the said article."
"Of course, an exercise is carried out by the Governor in terms of order of 2013. However, the operation of the 2013 order is stayed vide interim stay granted by the Co-ordinate Bench of this Court in Writ Petition No.20201/2014. This being the position, the contention of respondent/State that consensual agreement entered under S.4A of the Act of 2006 should be treated on par or similar to an order under Article 371J of the Constitution of India cannot be accepted for the simple reason an order under Article 371J of the Constitution of India has to be promulgated only in the manner prescribed under Article 371J of the Constitution of India," further noted the HC.
"When the law requires something to be done in a particular manner, it should be done in that manner only. It is even more so, in the case of constitutional mandate. No deviation is permissible to the constitutional mandate when it comes to formulating the policy through an order or enactment under Article 371J of the Constitution of India. Such order is to be passed by the Governor of the State and none other. Thus the consensual agreement dated 19.01.2022, cannot be treated as a 'law' or an 'order' to implement the obligation under Article 371J of the Constitution of India," clarified the bench.
"The consensual agreement under scrutiny is only an ad hoc arrangement between the parties to balance the conflicting claims in the matter of seat arrangements and other incidental matters relating to the admission of students to the professional course and it cannot have a status of an order under Article 371J," further read the order.
Referring to the Rules 2016, the bench also mentioned, "Clause 3(c)(ii) enables the private institution to fill up 66% of the seats in terms of the Rules 2016. The Rules 2016 provides for filling up of seats by taking into consideration the entire State as one unit as noticed in Rule 4(6) of 2016 Rules. In addition to this, para 3 c stipulates that the Members of AMPCK are exempted from making any separate reservation under Article 15(5) or Article 371J of the Constitutions of India."
"From a combined reading of these clauses, there is no difficulty in holding that the consensual agreement doesn't restrict the institution from filling up 66% of the seats out of 55% of the total seats available to it by treating the entire State of Karnataka as one unit," held the bench.
Declaring that the petition was maintainable, the bench further observed, "it is to be noticed that the 2016 Rules provide for reservation to the linguistic minority students for the entire state where the minority institution is located. When the Rules 2016, enacted by the State itself provides for such representation, in the absence of any policy or order under Article 371J, it is not open to the State to hold that linguistic minority students are not affected by the impugned seat matrix."
Although the bench allowed the petition partly and quashed the revised seat matrix it also clarified that "It is made clear that, the decision is rendered in these petitions, adjudicating the rights and liabilities of the parties under the consensual agreement dated 19.01.2022. The questions relating to the reservation in Educational Institutions located in Hyderabad-Karnataka region, under The Karnataka Educational Institutions (Regulations of Admission in the Hyderabad-Karnataka Region) (Order - 2013) is not adjudicated in this order as the said questions are to be adjudicated in W.P.No.20201/2014 and connected matters."
To read the court order, click on the link below.
Barsha completed her MA from the University of Burdwan, West Bengal in 2018. Having a knack for Journalism she joined Medical Dialogues back in 2020. She mainly covers news about medico legal cases, NMC/DCI updates, medical education issues including the latest updates about medical and dental colleges in India. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.