Vacant Seats Amount to National Waste of Resources: SC directs filling of vacant MBBS seats in MP
New Delhi: In a recent judgment, that is going to change the course of the medical admission process in the State of Madhya Pradesh, the Apex Court has declared Rule 12 (8) (a) of Madhya Pradesh Chikitsa Shiksha Pravesh Niyam, 2018 as unconstitutional. Directions have been given to the State Government to fill in the vacant Medical seats in the mop-up round for the year 2020- 21 by college-level counseling within a period of 7 days from the date of judgment.
The judgment dated 03.02.2021, by the Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Indira Banerjee has mentioned, "The right to admit students which is a part of the management's right to occupation under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution of India stands defeated by Rule 12 (8) (a) as it prevents them from filling up all the seats in medical courses."
Thus the SC bench has ordered, "After hearing the learned counsel for the parties, we declare Rule 12 (8) (a) of the Madhya Pradesh Chikitsa Shiksha Pravesh Niyam, 2018 as violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. We direct the State of Madhya Pradesh to initiate the process of filling up the 7 unfilled seats of 1st-year MBBS course in the mop-up round for the year 2020- 21 by college-level counseling within a period of 7 days from today."
The judgment by the Apex Court comes after several medical colleges including the Index Medical College, Hospital and Research Centre had appealed before the SC challenging the rule 12 (8) (a) of the Madhya Pradesh Chikitsa Shiksha Pravesh Niyam, 2018.
Previously, the appellants had approached the Indore bench of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh for this matter. However, the HC in a judgment dated 15.12.2020 had dismissed the plea.
The Madhya Pradesh Chikitsa Shiksha Pravesh Niyam, 2018 had been framed by the State Government in the exercise of powers conferred under Section 12 of The Madhya Pradesh Niji Vyavasayik Adhiniyam, 2007. There had been some amendments to the rules and it had been notified on 19.06.2019.
The case concerns Rule 12 (8) (a) of the said rules, which reads as, "(8) (a) The vacant seats as a result of allotted candidates from MOP-UP round not taking admission or candidates resigning from admitted seat shall not be included in the college level counseling (CLC) being conducted after MOP-UP round".
Mr. Neeraj Kishan Kaul, Mr. Siddharth R. Gupta and Mr. Amalpushp Shroti had represented the petitioners in this case. They had contended that Rule 12 (8) (a) had been an affront to the right of occupation of the private medical colleges which is protected under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution of India. Proscribing medical institutions from filling up seats that fall vacant due to candidates in the mop-up round not taking admission or candidates submitting resignation after taking admission amounts to an unreasonable restriction, further contended the counsel for the petitioners.
On the other hand, Mr. Saurabh Mishra, the learned Additional Advocate General, had represented the State of Madhya Pradesh before the SC bench. They had contended that it had become necessary to make an amendment to Rule 12 and insert Sub-Rule 8 as it was found that students with lesser merit were getting admission to better colleges in stray vacancies which arose due to nonjoining or resignation of candidates after mop-up round. Further, Rule 12 (8) was also brought to prevent manipulation by those candidates who were blocking seats in collusion with less meritorious candidates.
As the entire exercise of admission to medical colleges had been laid to ensure transparency, Rule 12 (8) was made with the objective that less meritorious candidates would not steal a march over those having higher merit, contended the counsel representing the State.
After listening to all the contentions and points of arguments by both the parties, the SC bench had observed that "Even assuming the object of the Rule is to ensure that lesser meritorious candidates do not get admission to better colleges, the measure adopted by the Government in keeping seats vacant is disproportionate."
The Court further noted, "The professed object of the amendment to the Rules by insertion of Rule 12 (8) (a) is to ensure that admission to medical institutions are made strictly in accordance to merit as the Government noticed that lesser meritorious candidates were getting better colleges/subjects. Therefore, seats that fall vacant due to non-joining or resignation of students who were allotted seats in mop-up round of counseling will not be included in the college-level counseling. The result is such seats will remain unfilled."
Expressing no doubt that the object of Rule 12 (8) (a) had been to appropriate malpractice by students in the medical admissions, the Court further opined, "However, the medical colleges who have no part to play in the manipulation as detailed above are penalized by not being permitted to fill up all the seats. The measure taken by the Government of proscribing the managements from filling up those seats that fall vacant due to non-joining of the candidates in mop-up round is an excessive and unreasonable restriction."
Finally, allowing the appeals, the Apex Court bench had mentioned in its judgment, "The right to admit students which is a part of the management's right to occupation under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution of India stands defeated by Rule 12 (8) (a) as it prevents them from filling up all the seats in medical courses.
Upgradation and selection of subject of study is pertinent only to postgraduate medical course. In so far as undergraduate medical course is concerned, the upgradation is restricted only to a better college.
Not filling up all the medical seats is not a solution to the problem. Moreover, seats being kept vacant results in huge financial loss to the management of the educational institutions apart from being a national waste of resources. Interest of the general public is not subserved by seats being kept vacant. On the other hand, seats in recognized medical colleges not being filled up is detrimental to public interest.
"We are constrained to observe that the policy of not permitting the managements from filling up all the seats does not have any nexus with the object sought to be achieved by Rule 12 (8) (a). The classification of seats remaining vacant due to non-joining may be based on intelligible differentia but it does not have any rational connection with the object sought to be achieved by Rule 12 (8) (a).
Applying the test of proportionality, we are of the opinion that the restriction imposed by the Rule is unreasonable. Ergo, Rule 12 (8)(a) is violative of Articles 14 and 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution," the court notedm
To view the original Apex Court order, click on the link below.