No admission to AIIMS PhD, MSc aspirants who have not cleared qualifying exam: Delhi HC
New Delhi: The terms and conditions of the prospectus for admission bind the parties and are to be abided by, the Delhi High Court has said while holding that the students who have not cleared the qualifying examination within the stipulated date cannot be given admission in M.Sc and Ph.D courses of AIIMS for the academic year 2020-21.
The high court dismissed several pleas of those who have sought admission in M.Sc and Ph.D courses of AIIMS but had not cleared the qualifying examination (graduation and post-graduation) conducted by respective universities.
The case of the students was that they appeared in the entrance examinations and after declaration of result they found themselves in the merit list at a position which would have entitled them to admission.
However, they could not secure admission owing to having not cleared the qualifying examination by the stipulated date.
The students had sought extension of the date for qualifying examination in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
However, a bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Amit Bansal said "There is no reason why the appellants (students) alone should be given the benefit of COVID-19 and why it should not be extended to all others also who may be entitled thereto.
"There has to be a finality to admissions. The appellants participated in the admission process in terms of the prospectus published for such admissions. As per the terms and conditions of such admission process, the appellants are not eligible for admission," the bench said, in its verdict passed on March 25 and released on April 5.
It added that as per the terms and conditions, others, though placed lower in merit in the result of the entrance examination, are eligible for and entitled to admission and they cannot be displaced to admit appellants.
"The court cannot displace those who have already been admitted or whose admissions have been crystallized, to admit the appellants… There is no merit in the appeals. Dismissed," it said.
The high court was hearing several appeals of medical students challenging a single judge's order which had also dismissed their pleas as they had not cleared the qualifying examination.
The division bench had earlier directed to maintain status quo and as a consequence, the courses which were to commence in August and September, 2020, have not commenced till now.
Advocate Dushyant Parashar, representing AIIMS in one of the appeals, submitted that though a large part of the first year of the two-year course is already over, but the Academic Council of AIIMS has now instructed him to make a statement before the court that if the status quo is lifted, the curriculum will be completed before the end of the academic year, by making up for the lost time by holding classes on all holidays.
As per the admission prospectus of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), even those who till the stipulated date, may not have cleared the qualifying examination but were likely to clear the qualifying examination by the stipulated date, were permitted to apply.
However, if such candidates do not clear the qualifying examination by the stipulated date, they would not be admitted, the prospectus stated.
The court noted that these medical students could not clear the qualifying examination by the stipulated date owing to their respective universities having delayed, either the conduct of the qualifying examinations or the declaration of result of the examinations.
The court noted that already for the last nearly three months, the academic calendar of AIIMS has suffered for the reason of interim orders in these proceedings and a year cannot be permitted to be wasted.
"Else, the consistent view of the courts, as noted by the single judge in the impugned judgment also, has been that terms and conditions of prospectus of admission bind the parties and are to be abided by.
"Though the delay in conduct of the qualifying examination or declaration of result thereof, this time around may be attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic but it is not as if in the past there were no such delays," it said.
In the past also, individual universities or colleges have delayed conduct of examinations and declaration of result which has cost its students further admissions and in none of the cases, it was ever held that for such reasons, the provisions of the prospectus would be given a go-bye and the courts would intervene.
"Even otherwise, the interference by the courts in academic matters, which are best left to be governed to the education bodies, has to be minimal and the courts, by making orders, cannot interfere in the running of the educational institutions and academic courses," the bench said.
The students' counsel contended that AIIMS itself had delayed the admission process and result of the entrance examination, though originally expected to be declared in July, 2020, was declared only in October, 2020.
However, the institution was insisting upon sticking to the cut-off date given in the prospectus for clearing the qualifying examination, the counsel said.
The counsel said there was no delay or fault on their part and they cannot be made to suffer.
Though AIIMS is not governed by the University Grants Commission but UGC has granted extension of timelines owing to the prevalent COVID-19 pandemic and on the same parameters, AIIMS ought to have extended the cut-off date and cannot deprive admission to meritorious students on such grounds, the counsel argued.
On the court's query whether any of the appellants had cleared the qualifying examination before declaration of results of the entrance examination, the answer was in negative.