The Supreme Court on Wednesday referred to a larger Bench the issue of providing an institutional preference for post-graduate medical admissions.
The Bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice M Shantanagoudar directed the papers to be placed before the Chief Justice of India for suitable orders.
The Court was hearing petitions challenging a judgment passed by the Gujarat High Court in February last year. The petitions before the High Court had challenged Rules framed by the Gujarat University, providing preference to candidates graduating from the varsity for granting admissions to various Post Graduate Degree and Diploma courses in each subject in Government Institution / Colleges.
The petitioners had asserted that National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) was designed in order to ensure that there exists no other criteria except for merit for admissions to Post Graduate and Under Graduate courses.
The Court had however ruled that the Supreme Court authorities upholding institutional preference in admissions would prevail despite the introduction of NEET. It had opined, “Although it is pleaded that in view of changed circumstances, it requires reconsideration, but in view of binding judgments of the Hon'ble Supreme Court on the subject, we are compelled to reject such contention and reject the petition by following judgments already referred to.
We also do not find any merit in the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner that the impugned rules which are framed by 3rd respondent are arbitrary and/or breach of rights guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution of India so as to declare said rules as illegal.”
This had now been challenged before the Supreme Court. During the hearing, Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the petitioner, once again asserted that Regulation 9 of the Post-Graduate Medical Education Admission Regulation, 2000 and the introduction of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) brings about the change to the effect that all admissions in post-graduate medical courses should be only on the basis of merit as per NEET scores.
The Court was informed that a three-judge Bench of the Apex Court had made interim arrangements for the year 2017-18 for admissions to post-graduate medical courses in a similar fact situation.
On the other hand, the Counsel appearing for the respondents—Delhi University, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University and University of Gujarat— submitted that the matter can be decided by the Division Bench, relying on the decision in the case of Saurabh Chaudri & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors, wherein a five-Judge Constitution Bench had upheld institutional preference in post-graduate medical courses.
The Court, however, opined that the matter should be referred to a larger Bench and ordered, “However, in view of the importance of the issue involved in these petitions, we are of the considered opinion that these matters have to be heard by a larger Bench.
The Office is directed to place the papers before Hon’ble the Chief Justice for suitable orders for reference to a larger Bench.”
Read the Order Here