‘The object sought to be achieved is that the incumbent must serve the State concerned and for the emancipation of the educational standards of the people who are residing in a particular State, such reservation has been upheld by this Court for the inhabitants of the State and prescription of the condition of obtaining an education in a State.’
The Supreme Court, while upholding the constitutionality of educational/domicile requirements in Assam MBBS/BDS Admission Rules, has observed that it is permissible to lay down the essential educational requirements, residential/domicile in a particular state in respect of state quota seats for basic courses of MBBS/BDS/Ayurvedic.
Several MBBS/BDS aspirants (Rajdeep Ghosh vs. State of Assam) had challenged Rule 3(1)(c) of the Medical Colleges and Dental Colleges of Assam (Regulations of Admission into 1st-year MBBS/BDS Courses) Rules, by preferring writ petitions before the Supreme court.
Rule 3(1)(c) of the Medical Colleges and Dental Colleges of Assam (Regulations of Admission into 1st year MBBS/BDS Courses) Rules, which requires that, in order to be eligible for state quota seats, a candidate must study in all the classes from Class VII to XII in the State of Assam and must pass the qualifying examination or its equivalent examination from any institute situated in the State of Assam. The exception has been carved out in case father or mother is posted outside Assam as an Assam State Government employee or Central Government employee or as an employee of a corporation/agency/instrumentality under the Government of Assam or Central Government.
The petitioners contended that no expert study has been done so as to find out the candidates who have studied from Class VII to XII outside the state of Assam are likely not to serve the state after they acquire their MBBS degree. They also argued that the state obtains a bond agreement to serve the state for 5 years or render one year of rural service on completion of the MBBS course and in case of breach, to pay a sum of Rs 30 lakhs to the government as compensation and that would ensure the incumbent would serve the state as provided in bond after passing out MBBS. Considering this, it was urged that requirement as provided in Rule 3(1)(c) has to be construed as directory and not mandatory.
On the other hand, the state supported the rule, contending that it is required in order to enable the students to obtain an education in the state of Assam who are otherwise also residents of Assam and in order to ensure that after obtaining the education, they cater to the needs of the state of Assam. It was also argued that the students who have obtained education outside the state are not likely to stay in Assam and the provision of Rule 15 regarding furnishing of bond cannot be said to be an adequate safeguard.
Educational/residential/domicile requirements permissible for basic courses of MBBS/BDS/Ayurvedic
The bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice S Abdul Nazeer, referring to various earlier decisions in this aspect, observed: “It is permissible to lay down the essential educational requirements, residential/domicile in a particular State in respect of basic courses of MBBS/BDS/Ayurvedic. The object sought to be achieved is that the incumbent must serve the State concerned and for the emancipation of the educational standards of the people who are residing in a particular State, such reservation has been upheld by this Court for the inhabitants of the State and prescription of the condition of obtaining an education in a State. The only distinction has been made with respect to postgraduate and post-doctoral super specialty course.”
With regard to some judgments of the apex court cited before the bench, it said that the ratio in those cases for the postgraduate course is not attracted to the basic course that is MBBS course. It said the eligibility criteria for basic MBBS course may be different and can be based on domicile but not for the postgraduate and postdoctoral courses.
The bench also rejected plea of extending relaxation to employees of other state government but residents of Assam, and said: “The wards of the employees in the service of other States like Government employees of Arunachal Pradesh, in our opinion, form a totally different class. When the wards are obtaining education outside and the parents are working in Arunachal Pradesh as Government employee or elsewhere, they are not likely to come back to the State of Assam.”
It also rejected the contention that private employees working outside the state ought to have been placed at the similar footing as that of the wards of the state government/Central Government employees etc. In our opinion, when once parents have moved outside in a private employment and wards obtaining education outside, they are not likely to come back, thus, their exclusion as afore-stated footing cannot be said to be irrational or illegal, Justice Mishra said.
On the contention that some of the students may obtain admission in other states for the purpose of better coaching, the bench said:”Relevant data has not been placed on record by the petitioners that in Assam coaching is not available. Apart from that, when they can afford to obtain coaching in other States, they stand on a different footing, they are the one who belongs to an affluent class who can afford expensive education in other States and it is not necessary that they should be adjusted in State quota seat, they can stake claim for All India Quota Seats for the State of Assam. They can stake their claim with respect to open seats within the State of Assam. The exclusion is not total for them. However, with respect to the State-quota seats, since it is open to the State Government to lay down the educational as well as domicile requirement, incumbents must fulfill the criteria.”