21 Oct 2022 4:45 AM GMT
The Gujarat High Court, while dealing with two writ petitions, held the notification amending the eligibility criteria for participating in the admission process of various postgraduate medical courses within the State, to be constitutionally valid. The petitioners, who were qualified NEET PG candidates seeking admission to postgraduate medical courses, filed the petition challenging...
The Gujarat High Court, while dealing with two writ petitions, held the notification amending the eligibility criteria for participating in the admission process of various postgraduate medical courses within the State, to be constitutionally valid.
The petitioners, who were qualified NEET PG candidates seeking admission to postgraduate medical courses, filed the petition challenging the validity of the amended eligibility criteria of admission as well as the validity of the notification which amended the eligibility criteria prescribed for admission to the MD/MS/Diploma/CPS and MDS courses.
It was the case of the petitioners that as per Rule 4(2) of the Gujarat Professional Post Graduate Medical Educational Courses (Regulation of Admission) Rules, 2018 ['Rules'], a candidate was required to have completed a recognized MBBS or BDS course from the University established under any law of Government of Gujarat and situated in the State of Gujarat to take part in the admission process. However, while the admission as per these Rules was ongoing, the Government made an amendment which also brought students who studied outside the State of Gujarat but who were domiciled in Gujarat, within the coverage of the admission process. Therefore, the petitioners challenged the amended Rule 4(2) on grounds that the same was manifestly arbitrary since it was amended after the admission process had already commenced, thereby diluting the provision of State quota to the detriment of the petitioners.
It was also the argument of the petitioners that the notification of the amendment was procedurally impermissible since the notification provided that the amendment shall come into force from the date of its publication in official gazette, which the petitioners argued had not happened. They also argued that the amendment was ultra vires to the parent legislation –Gujarat Professional Medical Educational Colleges or Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Fixation of Fees) Act, 2007 ['Act'], section 20 of which, required every amendment to be laid down before the State Legislature within thirty days, which requirement was not followed
Petitioners relied on the Supreme Court decisions in Neil Nunes v. Union of India, (2022) 4 SCC 1, Dipak Babaria and Others v. State of Gujarat, AIR 2017 SC 1792, Quarry Owners Association v. State of Bihar, AIR 2000 SC 2870 and on Union of India v. National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Limited, Civil Appeal No. 2885 of 2000.
The respondents, on the other hand, argued that the amendment was not prejudicial to the petitioners and that the scope of the amendment was not to dilute the State quota, but to enlarge its coverage and scope by bringing talented students, who although domiciled in Gujarat were earlier excluded from the process only because they completed their undergraduate studies outside Gujarat. The respondents also argued that the process of publication of the amended rules in the Gazette had already been initiated, and therefore, there was no infirmity whatsoever. As far as the procedure under Section 20 was concerned, the respondents argued that mere failure to place the amendment before the House of Legislature does not affect the validity of such amendment. Reliance was placed on the Supreme Court decision in Jan Mohammad Noor Mohammad Bagban v. State of Gujarat and Another, 1966 (1) SCR 505.
The court, after appreciating the arguments made by both the petitioners and the respondents, held that the renewed eligibility criteria as well as the amendment which proposed the new criteria were both valid and not ultra vires to the Act.
The court stated that the eligibility criteria was not changed after the admission process started and that the petitioners were aware about the new eligibility criteria since the very beginning as the same was already published on the web portal of the Admission Committee for Professional Post Graduate Medical Course (ACPPGMEC). The court also noted that it would have been a different case were any of the rights of the petitioners being taken away by the amendment. Since that was not the case, the challenge by the petitioners could not proceed. The court placed reliance on the decision in Jan Mohammad Noor Mohammad Bagban v. State of Gujarat and Another, 1966 (1) SCR 505, among others, to reach its finding.
Case Title: Saumil Hetalkumar Shah v. State of Gujarat
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Guj) 390
Coram: Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh J. Shastri
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment