12 March 2022 5:15 AM GMT
The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently set aside the decision of the Appellate Authority to reduce seats in a medical course, observing that Section 28 of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 does not permit the Appellate Authority to act as Medical Assessment and Rating Board, for the purpose of reduction of seats unilaterally. The division bench of Justice Sujoy Paul and...
The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently set aside the decision of the Appellate Authority to reduce seats in a medical course, observing that Section 28 of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 does not permit the Appellate Authority to act as Medical Assessment and Rating Board, for the purpose of reduction of seats unilaterally.
The division bench of Justice Sujoy Paul and Justice D.D. Bansal was dealing with a writ petition filed by the Petitioner/College, aggrieved by the decision of the Appellate Authority under the 2019 Act, whereby the seats in a medical course were reduced from 7 to 5.
The case of the Petitioner was that it had moved an application seeking an increase in the number of seats from 1 to 9 in M.S. (Orthopaedics) Course. Pursuant to Section 26 of the Act of 2019, the Medical Assessment and Rating Board (MARB) enhanced the number of seats to 7. The Petitioner challenged the said order before the Appellate Authority, which in turn reduced the seats from 7 to 5.
The Petitioner argued that the Appellate Authority was obliged to examine the decision of the MARB to the extent it was called in question, and not beyond it. It was further contended that MARB is the Competent Authority to take a decision regarding allotment of seats and approval of scheme and that Appellate Authority has no authority, jurisdiction and competence to take a decision on that aspect.
Per contra, the State argued that no doubt MARB is the Competent Authority under Section 28 of the Act of 2019 but it cannot be forgotten that the Appellate Authority can exercise all such powers which an original authority can exercise. It was further submitted that the Appellate Authority had acted in consonance with the statutory provision and therefore, the decision did not require the interference of the Court.
Perusing the provisions under Section 26 of the Act of 2019, the Court observed that the statute recognizes MARB as the competent statutory authority for the purpose of certain functions. The Court further scrutinized the provisions under Section 28 of the Act of 2019 in the context of the decision of the Appellate Authority to reduce the seats and opined-
The power of Appellate Authority can be traced from sub-section (5) & (6) of Section 28. A bare perusal of sub-section (5) makes it clear that it begins with the expression 'Where a scheme is disapproved' or 'where no decision is taken'. In the instant case, as noticed above, the scheme was approved to the extent extending the seats from 01 to 07. The Appellate Authority could have exercised its power under sub-section (5), if scheme was either disapproved or no decision was taken by MARB whereas in the present case MARB has already taken a decision to enhance the seats from 01 to 07.
The Court noted that the Appellate Authority had adopted a unique procedure which was unknown to law, whereby the scheme already approved and seats already enhanced were directed to be reduced unilaterally. This, the Court observed, ran contrary to the scheme and object of the Act. It further noted that no enabling provision was brought to its notice which permitted the Appellate Authority to travel beyond the prayer of appeal memo-
Putting it differently, when appeal was confined for enhancement of two seats, nothing was pointed out which enables the Appellate Authority to take away the benefit of enhancement of seats already granted by MARB. For this reason also, we are unable to countenance the impugned minutes of first Appellate Authority.
The Court opined that the language of the statute was clear and unambiguous and should therefore be given effect, irrespective of consequences. It did not accept the argument of the State that the Appellate Authority could have exercised all such powers, which were exercisable by the original statutory authority i.e., MARB.
With the aforesaid observation, the Court set aside the decision of the Appellate Authority to reduce the seats in the medical course from 7 to 5.
Case Title: People's College of Medical Sciences and Research Center and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors.
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (MP) 74
Click Here To Read/Download Order