The Gujarat High Court recently quashed Rules permitting common counselling for admissions to management quota seats in the courses of Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery (BAMS), Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine & Surgery (BHMS) Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPT) and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.Sc. Nursing).
The Bench comprising Chief Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice Vipul M. Pancholi held that the Rules were ultra vires the parent Act, and observed, “By virtue of the impugned Rules, power of autonomy conferred on the private unaided professional medical educational institutions to admit students in management quota seats is totally taken away contrary to the plain language used in section 6 of the Gujarat Professional Medical Educational Colleges or Institutions (Regulation of Admissions and Fixation of Fees) Act, 2007.”
The Court was hearing a Petition filed by the Association of Self Financed Ayurveda Colleges of Gujarat, challenging the validity of certain provisions of the Gujarat Professional Medical Educational Courses (Regulation of Admission in Undergraduate Courses) Rules, 2017. The impugned provisions had empowered the Admission Committee to conduct the counselling for admissions to government quota as well as management quota seats.
The Petitioners had now alleged that the Rules were ultra vires the parent Act, i.e., the Gujarat Professional Medical Educational Colleges or Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Fixation of Fees) Act, 2007, which bifurcates seats between the state quota and management quota in the ratio of 75:25. They also alleged that the provisions snatched away their right to conduct admissions to the management quota seats, as was the trend in the past.
The State had, on the other hand, submitted that it had discontinued the Gujarat Common Entrance Test and adopted NEET for all professional medical educational courses. It further submitted that the Rules were formulated to extend more benefits to the student community at large, in view of the widespread complaints pertaining to malpractices by unaided institutions.
It further submitted that the Rules do not deprive the institutions of any right, as they would still be able to collect the fee as fixed by the regulatory authority for the management quota seats. Counselling, it said, has nothing to do with the autonomy of the colleges to admit students.
The Court, however, disagreed with the State’s contentions and noted, “Though it is sought to be contended by the learned Additional Advocate General that counselling has nothing to do with the admission to be made in the private unaided professional medical educational institutions, we are unable to accept such argument. During the process of counselling, as per the choice of the student and having regard to the rank acquired in the NEET, admissions will be granted by the respondent no.2 (admission committee).”
The Court further refused to accept the contention that the presence of a representative of the colleges on the Admission Committee would make any difference. “In that view of the matter, by framing the rules under the guise of common counselling, without amending the provision of the Act, it is not open for the State to make such rules traversing beyond the scope of substantive provision under the Act itself. If the impugned rules are allowed to stand, it makes clear that they supplant the provisions of the Act but not to subserve the implementation of the provisions of the Act,” it thereby observed.
It then issued the following directions:
“(i) For the purpose of filling up the management seats, members of the petitioners-Associations shall form a Consortium for admissions to different types of courses or one Consortium may work for more than one course.
(ii) The Consortium shall, by an advertisement in two English and two Gujarati leading newspapers widely circulated in the State of Gujarat, invite applications from eligible students for admission to Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery (BAMS), Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine & Surgery (BHMS) Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPT) and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.Sc. Nursing) in the management quota seats. The advertisement shall specify the date of issue of application forms, centers from where application forms may be obtained and to be submitted, last date for submission of application forms, details of fees to be paid, eligibility criteria, number of seats available for admission in the management quota seats and such other information as may be necessary in this regard.
(iii) The Consortium shall also make necessary arrangements to issue and receive application forms for admission in the management quota seats in the office of the Admission Committee.
(iv) All the management quota seats shall be filled up by Consortium by a single window system on the basis of inter-se merit list of the students to be admitted against management seats and whose names appear in the merit list prepared by the Admission Committee.
(v) The management quota seats shall be filled strictly in accordance with the merit list prepared by the Admission Committee. If admissions are not made in the management quota seats in any college by not following the inter-se merit list of the students to be admitted against the management quota seats, it is open to such students to approach the competent authority for taking appropriate action against such colleges and in such event, it is open to the appropriate authority to take such steps against such colleges in accordance with law.”