HC denies AFMS admission to doctor who had taken up seat in another medical college during AIQ counseling
New Delhi: Finding no merit in the petition, the Delhi High Court has recently rejected the plea of a PG Medical aspirant seeking a seat after being denied admission although he satisfies all the criteria of rank or eligibility for admission to any of Armed Forces Medical Service Institutions.
The case relates to a doctor who sought an appropriate direction by the HC bench to direct the state, the DGHS and Medical college to allow him to participate in Post Graduate (PG) medical counselling which was supposed to be held on 09.07.2020 for admission to Post Graduate courses at any of the eight medical colleges as per petitioner's merit without insistence upon production of original certificates under clause 20(f) and 21(f) of the Information Bulletin which debars the petitioner's candidature because of his admission in a PG Medical course elsewhere.
To elaborate, it was the case of the petitioner PG medical aspirant that he had in the previous year appeared for counselling for the Post Graduate course in one of the 8 colleges run by Director General (DG), Armed Forces Medical Services. However, his candidature for counselling was rejected on the ground that his weight was over 11.5 kg more than the maximum permissible. As a result, 6 candidates with lower ranks got selected and the petitioner was rejected.
In his petition, he had submitted that he had worked hard and brought his weight within the permissible range to fulfil the dream of joining PG at AFMS institute.
This year, the petitioner appeared for the NEET PG 2020 held by National Board of Examination (NBE) on 5.1.2020. In the said examination, he secured an All India Rank of 13122, then he registered for AFMS Counseling. Among the eligible candidates, he had a rank of 2515. On 13.5.2020, a notice regarding AFMS PG counselling was issued calling upon candidates whose name figured in the List of Eligibility to report for medical examination along with their documents.
The grievance of the petitioner was that DG's Information Bulletin in paragraph 20(f) denies eligibility to any candidate who has taken admission in some other medical college in a PG course. The Petitioner had taken admission in Guwahati Medical College as the PG counselling of AFMS was inordinately delayed. It was pleaded by the petitioner that the mere fact of taking admission there cannot deny him of his right for being considered for admission at the medical college.
Further, the Information Bulletin in paragraph 21(f) requires the eligible candidates to produce certificates in original of the educational record at the time of counselling. Paragraph 23(f) also states that where candidates are unable to submit their original certificates, they will not be considered for admission to the counselling irrespective of the merit or entitlement. The petitioner, however, stated that he would not be in a position to produce the said documents at the counselling on 09.07.2020 in original as the documents have been submitted to Govt. Medical College, Guwahati as he is already admitted in a PG course there.
The clauses, referring to which the petitioner medico placed his contentions were as follows:
Clause 21(f) of the Information Bulletin, reads
"21(f)List of certificates to be submitted in original by selected candidates at the college on the day of admission:-
… Applicants without the above documents will be summarily rejected."
Similarly, clause 23(f) of the Information Bulletin, reads:
"23(f) The candidates who have been issued the admission letter shall produce all the original certificates for verification as applicable. Candidates without documents in original at the time of admission will not be eligible for admission to the college even if he/she has got the necessary merit."
Appendix B of the Information Bulletin which details the format of a declaration to be given by the candidates, states in clause 8 of the format as follows:
"I am not pursuing any PG course at present."
It was the grievance of the petitioner that he was being denied admission although he satisfies all the criteria of rank or eligibility for admission to DG's Medical College.
In response to the contentions laid by the aspirant, the Directorate General of Health Services, Medical Counselling Committee, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare submitted an affidavit notifying the court about the standard procedure adopted during the PG medical admission process.
It had been pointed out that the Directorate General of Health Services has been entrusted with the responsibility to conduct online counselling for allotment of Post Graduate (MD/MS/Diploma and MDS) seats to eligible and qualified candidates in participating Government Medical/Dental Colleges of India under 50% of All India Quota every year in terms of the judgment of the Supreme Court.
In an SC ruling, it was directed- "After the second round of counseling for All India Quota seats, the students who take admission in All India Quota seats should not be allowed/permitted to vacate the seats. This would ensure that very few seats are reverted to the State Quota and also All India Quota seats are filed by the students from the all India merit list only. The students who take admission and secure admission in Deemed Universities pursuant to the second round of counseling conducted by the DGHS shall not be eligible to participate in any other counseling." The DGHS contended that the same is mentioned in the counselling scheme of the NEET PG 20 uploaded in the MCC Website
The DGHS and MOHFW contended that in view of the fact that the petitioner has been allotted a seat in round II of counselling and has reported to the allotted medical college, he stood admitted in the said college and was holding a seat. In view of the stated policy, he was not eligible to take part in any other counselling. It was further stated that regarding candidates who participate in AFMS screening, they are required to register under AFMS at the time of registration and fulfil their eligibility criteria. The applicability of the aforementioned clauses was further reiterated by the DG, AFMS.
It was further submitted that due to inadvertent delay in conducting of AFMS PG Counselling owing to Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown situation this year, many candidates have already joined the PG seats in various colleges in round II of All India Quota Counselling. Allowing the petitioner to attend the AFMS PG Counselling with only the photocopies of the documents would attract representations from all such candidates who would be willing to join the AFMS and such an exemption will not be fair to the petitioner only. It was further spelt out that there may be multiple issues if such candidates who have already taken admission in PG courses in other institutions are allowed to participate in the Counselling. The multiples issues are stated as follows:
"(a). The college where the candidate has deposited the original documents may not return the same in view of the MCC notice referred above and the same may be seen as contempt of the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court.
(b). Even if some of the students are able to resign from their respective institutions to join the AFMS colleges, it will lead to representations by candidates lower in merit who have not joined any other college and were waiting for AFMS PG counselling.
(c). The resignation of any candidate to join AFMS institutes is also likely to cause representation from candidates lower in merit from the AIQ allotment asking for an up gradation. There is otherwise likely to be a wastage of these PG seats.
(d). AFMS may be required to hold multiple rounds of counselling to fill all PG seats even if one such candidate is unable to bring the original documents. This is not feasible due to the scarcity of time and movement of candidates involved.
(e). Despite the fact that AFMS is likely to get candidates lower in merit this year due to the exceptional circumstances, the provision of producing the original documents at the time of PG Counselling is required to ensure that the counselling is conducted with allotment of maximum number of PG Seats in AFMS as well as to avoid the wastage of any seats of AIQ allotted by the MCC to abide by the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India."
After hearing the submissions from both the sides, the Delhi HC bench of Honourable Justice Jayant Nath perused the clauses on the basis of which the whole is contended upon. And after thoroughly examining the applicability of the clauses, the present scenario of the PG medical admissions in the country, and referring to several judgements made by judiciary benches, the judge observed:
The settled legal position is that the terms of the Admission brochure are binding on the candidates. The petitioner participated in the NEET-PG counseling in the second round and took admission in the Guwahati Medical College. When he took the admission he knew fully well that he is opting out of participating in the counseling for AFMS seats. He has deliberately knowingly taken the decision to forego his right in participating in the AFMS counseling. Later on, after the result of AFMS the petitioner cannot be allowed to turn around and say that the bar on a person who is already admitted in another post-graduate seats to participate in the counseling by the respondents is illegal and unfounded.
Hence holding that there is no merit in the petition, the HC dismissed the petition and said,
The restriction as stipulated in Clause 20(f) and 21 (f) of the Information Bulletin cannot said to be unreasonable as it ensures orderly and timely Selection of Candidates.
Attached is the order below: