Landmark Decision: The States not MCI that will decide In-service Quota for PG Medical Admissions, holds Supreme Court Constitution Bench
MCI has no power to make any reservation for in-service candidates in Post Graduate Medical Course in any particular state, stated the court
New Delhi - In a major development on the issue of quota in PG Medical admissions, the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court has recently held that it is that states and not the Medical Council of India ( MCI) that have the powers to decide on the in-service quota for government doctors
The Supreme Court clearly stated that it is the states that are empowered to make special provisions for granting quota in admissions in PG courses to government doctors serving in remote areas.
The decision came after the Tamil Nadu Medical Officers' Association and others had filed a writ petition before the Apex Court challenging Regulation 9(4) and (8) of the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000, as framed by the Medical Council of India. They had mainly contended that 'the coordination and determination of standards in institutions for higher education' is within the exclusive domain of the Union, medical education under Entry 25, List III, though made subject to Entry 66 of List I, being an Entry in the Concurrent List, the State is not denuded of its power to legislate on the manner and method for admissions to Post Graduate Medical Courses.
The matter was first taken up by three-judge bench, who while referring the case to larger bench had noted the contentions of the petitioner that that 'the coordination and determination of standards in institutions for higher education' is within the exclusive domain of the Union, medical education under Entry 25, List III, though made subject to Entry 66 of List I, being an Entry in the Concurrent List, the State is not denuded of its power to legislate on the manner and method for admissions to Post Graduate Medical Courses
Now a five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra held that states have legislative competence to make special provisions for reservation, clearly adding that Medical Council of India has no power to make any reservation for in-service candidates in Post Graduate Medical Course in any particular state.
The MCI Regulations, 2000, which are made under the Medical Council Act provide for a reservation in Postgraduate Diploma Courses for inservice candidates serving with the respective State Governments. There is no bar to such reservation in Postgraduate Degree Courses. The bar, if any, has to be express and cannot be implied. Clause 9(IV) of the MCI Regulations, 2000 can be construed as provided for community reservations and also a reservation for inservice candidates. Even otherwise, it does not enable explicitly the State Government to provide for a weightage in marks, amongst in-service candidates. Thus, the legislative instrument which could be sourced to the MCI, which in turn is a body established by the Central Government under the Medical Council Act itself recognizes an empowerment of the State Government, inter alia, to lay down the modalities to regulate or provide for a reservation for inservice candidates in Postgraduate seats. If that be so, then the actual prescription of a reservation for inservice candidates, in relation to Postgraduate Degree seats obviously has not come into conflict with the MCI Regulations, 2000 so as to attract Article 254 of the Constitution;
The MCI Regulations, 2000, not expressly providing for a reservation in Postgraduate Degree seats, specifically empowering the State Government to do so, but only touches upon the reservation in Diploma seats, it does not follow that the State Government is incompetent to provide for reservation for inservice candidates in Degree seats as well. The competence of the State Government to provide for reservation for inservice candidates is not sourced to the MCI Regulations, 2000, but it is sourced to Entry 25 of List III. Thus, the absence of any mention of reservation for candidates in Postgraduate Degree seats in the Regulations, 2000 cannot support a submission by the MCI that consequently the State Government would be incompetent to provide for any reservation for inservice candidates in Degree seats;
The bench said that the MCI is a statutory body and has no power to make provisions for reservations. The top court added that the Medical Council of India (MCI) regulation that barred such reservation is arbitrary and unconstitutional.
The bench at the same time laid down expectation out of the states while excercising this power. The Court further observed that States can make regulations to provide reservation for in-service doctors in PG medical course and suggests that States may ask such beneficiaries to serve in rural, hilly and tribal areas for five years.
We also expect that the statutory instruments of the respective State Governments providing for such separate channel of entry should make a minimum service in rural or remote or difficult areas for a specified period mandatory before a candidate could seek admission through such separate channel and also subsequent to obtaining the degree. On completion of the course, to ensure the successful candidates serve in such areas, the State shall formulate a policy of making the in-service doctors who obtain entry in postgraduate medical degree courses through independent in-service channel execute bonds for such sum the respective States may consider fit and proper.
The Court has however clarified that the judgment will apply only prospectively and will not affect any admissions already made.
We, however, direct that the doctors who are already undergoing the postgraduate degree courses on the basis of being successful in the original writ petition filed in the High Court at Calcutta shall not be disturbed from pursuing the said course. The same direction shall also cover successful medical students who have already undertaken admission in postgraduate medical degree courses following the applicable admission process and are pursuing their postgraduate studies in the States of Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
The bench also comprised justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M R Shah, and Aniruddha Bose.