Private unaided medical colleges in Maharashtra will now have to adhere to state domicile rules and reserve 85 per cent seats for local students. The Bombay High Court on Monday refused to interfere with the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) and gave a go ahead for the admission process as per the rules brought about in August this year.
As per the regulation, now only 15 per cent seats will be available for students from other states. The court has, however, asked the state government to prepare a separate list of students from outside the state for academic purpose and restrained the government from putting that out without its review.
As per the state’s domicile rules, 85 per cent seats will be reserved for students domiciled in the state or have passed the secondary and higher secondary board level examination from Maharashtra and the rest 15 per cent will be institutional seats.
Two medical aspirants of Maharashtra, Taran Anuj Gupta and Prathamesh Anjaneya Agashe, who had appeared in the National Eligibility Entrance Test conducted in July, 2016, filed Civil Applications seeking to intervene in the Writ Petitions filed by Mahatma Gandhi Vidyamandir (W.P. 10158 of 2016) and three other Petitioners in the Bombay High Court. They were aggrieved by the Petition challenging the rules issued by the Commissioner, State Common Entrance Test Cell, Maharashtra which essentially ‘reserved’ 85 % of the seats of MBBS and BDS in unaided private medical and dental colleges in Maharashtra for students who had completed their 10th and 12th classes in Maharashtra (domicile of Maharashtra).
Advocate General Rohit Deo, counsel for the state government, told the court that, "We are accountable to the students of Maharashtra and not to the petitioners. They are giving the impression that this 15 per cent [quota] available for outside students is their right, but the truth is that it is a shackle put on the state by the apex court."
Senior Counsel, Mr. Mukesh Vashi, instructed by Indialaw LLP, appeared on behalf of the intervenors and argued along with the state, defending the Rules and the 85% quota as they stand. It was mainly contended that the rules, in reserving 85% of the seats did not create or impose any unreasonable restrictions. It was argued that similar quota’s were in existence in other states including Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala among others and such rules were effected, inter alia, keeping in mind the shortage of doctors in the state. It was also argued that the provisioning of 85% of seats was not unreasonable or inconsistent with earlier precedents of the Supreme Court (specifically Indian Medical Association v. Union of India), and moreover no prejudice would be caused to the Petitioner Colleges as all the seats would be filled up in any case and there would be no effect on the fees charged by the colleges.
The High Court Bench comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice M.S. Sonak declined to stay its own order as sought by the colleges in their petition. The private colleges will now have to adhere to the Central admission process, which includes domicile rule. They also rejected the contention that these rules were not applicable to minority institutions.
Students, who had registered for the central admission process through NEET for admission to deemed institutes in Maharashtra, had been awaiting the decision ever since. The selection list had been stayed by the high court till it decided on these petitions.
Local students and parents welcomed the move as the Directorate of Medical Education and Research can finally begin with the stalled admission process. However, since the petitioners have decided to approach the apex court against the High Court ruling, it cannot be assured if the matter has finally been settled or is a temporary respite.
Read the Judgment here.