Domicile Quota: Bombay HC denies interfering with Maharashtra Govt's embargo on 85 percent state quota seats for MBBS, BDS admissions
Mumbai: While listening to the pleas filed by students and private medical college, the Bombay High Court, on Tuesday, has denied interfering in the Maharashtra Government's embargo to outside students in the 85% state quota medical and dental seats.
The HC bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni, had mentioned on the Tuesday order that the self financing medical colleges couldn't claim fundamental right of admitting students in the 85% State quota without any restriction being imposed and irrespective of domicile.
It had been also opined on the behalf of the HC bench that "the restriction imposed on such a right is in the interest of the general public and in tune with clause (6) of Article 19. The authority competent to impose restriction has done so by a law, enactment whereof was within its competence. Such restriction was imposed keeping in mind local and regional needs."
The case concerns "The Maharashtra Unaided Private Professional Educational Institutions Rules, 2016." Currently, the eligibility criteria to get admission in any medical or dental college in Maharashtra stands as the student needs to clear 10th and 12th standards from an institution situated within the state and the student would need to be a domicile of the state. However, there are some relaxations for students clearing their 10th standard exam in 2017 or before that. For such cases, a student would be deemed eligible for admission even after appearing for their 10th standard examination outside of the state.
The Court had been listening to several petitions together. The petitioners included several students, Vedantaa Institute of Academic Excellence Pvt. Ltd., Vedantaa Institute of Medical Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi Vidyamandir among others.
As per the HC order, the plea by the petitioner students and medical colleges had been to replace the State's embargo in respect of 85% of seats available in colleges/institutions imparting education in the field of Health Sciences in Maharashtra. The petitioners had requested before the HC to allow admission of the outsiders in the private medical colleges based in Maharashtra.
The petitioner students had thus pleaded before the HC to "quash and set aside Rule 5 of the Rules framed under Maharashtra Unaided Private Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admissions and Fees) Act, 2015."
On the other hand, the petitioner college had prayed for HC direction to allow the College to receive applications from the students who are not domicile of State of Maharashtra for claiming MBBS seats under 15% institutional quota."
All the petitioners had also requested before the HC bench to "Hold and declare that it is unconstitutional, illegal to reserve cent percent seats in favor of local students."
Mr. V. M. Thorat, Ms. Pooja V. Thorat, Mr. M. V. Thorat, Mr. Anukul Seth, Mr. Madhav Kulkarni and Mr. Amar Bodke had represented all the matters of the petitioners. On the other hand, the State Government had been represented by Mr. A. A. Kumbhakoni, Advocate General.
The counsel appearing for the petitioners mainly had sought relief for the Company and the Private medical college. He had contended that the basic rule for admission should be only dependent on merit and the requirement of domicile would compromise that criterion. "The object of the State to provide appropriate and necessary medical and healthcare facilities should not be confined to narrow considerations of giving eminence to domicile," he contended.
The counsel for the petitioners had placed reliance on several previous judgments including Dr.Dinesh Kumar and Others (II) Vs. Motilal Nehru Medical College, Dr.Pradeep Jain Vs. Union of India & Others, T.M.A. Pai Foundation Vs. State of Karnataka & Others.
It had been also argued on the behalf of the petitioners that private medical colleges which run without receiving a single penny from the State should not be made to suffer the rigours of State control.
The counsel representing the petitioners had finally concluded his arguments saying that "since the Government policy on seat-sharing intrudes upon the freedom of private unaided colleges protected under Article 19(1)(g) and is not saved by Article 19(6), such policy is unconstitutional and ought to be declared as such and consequently struck down."
On the other hand, the counsel appearing for the state of Maharashtra had contended that the law in question had been well-settled and the reasonableness of a restriction must be determined in an objective manner and from the standpoint of the interests of the general public and not from the point of view of the persons upon whom the restrictions are imposed or upon abstract considerations. "Therefore, the private interests of the Company and the medical college have to yield to larger public interest, which is the soul of Article 19(6)," he contended.
The HC bench had agreed with the contentions made on the behalf of the State of Maharashtra. The HC bench had observed that taking note of the mal-practices and unscrupulous activities in the matter of admissions the invocation of a common entrance test conducted by the State had been held to be "a reasonable restriction on the right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) and, thus, the unbridled power of the institutions to admit students of their choice as part of Article 19(1)(g) right was left to be regulated by the State by conducting a common entrance test."
The court had observed that if the admission process on the basis of NEET could be reasonable restrictions, the same should be applied for the admission of students in 85% State quota in the terms of the 1997 Regulations.
"The entire procedure has to be seen as part of a single scheme starting with the 1997 Regulations and culminating in admission of meritorious students as far as possible commensurate with local and regional needs of a particular State," mentioned the HC order.
Thus, finding no reason to interfere with the legislation in question, the HC bench had dismissed the writ petitions.
To view the original court order, click on the link below.