A Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice F.M.I Kalifulla and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh today observed the principles for admissions to medical colleges, while deciding three special leave petitions filed against orders passed by Punjab and Haryana High Court in January 2013. The Court set aside the orders by the High Court as "there was a total lack of diligence displayed by the contesting Respondent".
Two appeals were filed by the Chandigarh Administration and the Government Medical College & Hospital, Chandigarh. The third appeal was filed by Ms. Jessica Rehsi, contending that in the event of the impugned orders of the Division Bench being implemented, her chance of getting admission to the course of M.B.B.S. for the academic year 2014-15 under the Non-Resident Indian (NRI) category would be impinged.
According to the contesting Respondent, she being a Canadian Citizen is an NRI, that, therefore, she was entitled to seek admission to the M.B.B.S. course in the NRI category quota but yet the definition of NRI as specified in the prospectus issued by the Chandigarh Administration and the Government Medical College, Chandigarh for the academic year 2014-15 would denude her of such status and, therefore, it was liable to be struck down.
The Division Bench realizing the predicament, in which the Chandigarh Administration was placed, felt that the case of the contesting Respondent was a rarest of rare one in which the relief of admission to the M.B.B.S. course should be provided to her.
The Court observed the following principles for admissions to medical colleges:
(1) The schedule relating to admissions to the professional colleges should be strictly and scrupulously adhered to and shall not be deviated under any circumstance either by the courts or the Board and midstream admission should not be permitted.
(2) Under exceptional circumstances, if the court finds that there is no fault attributable to the candidate i.e., the candidate has pursued his or her legal right expeditiously without any delay and that there is fault only on the part of the authorities or there is an apparent breach of rules and regulations as well as related principles in the process of grant of admission which would violate the right to equality and equal treatment to the competing candidates and the relief of admission can be directed within the time schedule prescribed, it would be completely just and fair to provide exceptional reliefs to the candidate under such circumstance alone.
(3) If a candidate is not selected during a particular academic year due to the fault of the Institutions/Authorities and in this process if the seats are filled up and the scope for granting admission is lost due to eclipse of time schedule, then under such circumstances, the candidate should not be victimised for no fault of his/her and the Court may consider grant of appropriate compensation to offset the loss caused, if any.
(4) When a candidate does not exercise or pursue his/her rights or legal remedies against his/her non-selection expeditiously and promptly, then the Courts cannot grant any relief to the candidate in the form of securing an admission.
(5) If the candidate takes a calculated risk/chance by subjecting himself/herself to the selection process and after knowing his/her non-selection, he/she cannot subsequently turn around and contend that the process of selection was unfair.
(6) If it is found that the candidate acquiesces or waives his/her right to claim relief before the Court promptly, then in such cases, the legal maxim vigilantibus non dormientibus aequitas subvenit, which means that equity aids only the vigilant and not the ones who sleep over their rights, will be highly appropriate.
(7) No relief can be granted even though the prospectus is declared illegal or invalid if the same is not challenged promptly. Once the candidate is aware that he/she does not fulfill the criteria of the prospectus he/she cannot be heard to state that, he/she chose to challenge the same only after preferring the application and after the same is refused on the ground of eligibility.
(8) There cannot be telescoping of unfilled seats of one year with permitted seats of the subsequent year i.e., carry forward of seats cannot be permitted how much ever meritorious a candidate is and deserved admission. In such circumstances, the Courts cannot grant any relief to the candidate but it is up to the candidate to re-apply next academic year.
(9) There cannot be at any point of time a direction given either by the Court or the Board to increase the number of seats which is exclusively in the realm of the Medical Council of India.
(10) Each of these above mentioned principles should be applied based on the unique and distinguishable facts and circumstances of each case and no two cases can be held to be identical.
Laying down a basis for further claims, the Bench also observed, "As time and again such instances of claiming admission into such professional courses are brought before the Court, and on every such occasion, reliance is placed upon the various decisions of this Court for issuing necessary directions for accommodating the students to various courses claiming parity, we feel it appropriate to state that unless such claims of exceptional nature are brought before the Court within the time schedule fixed by this Court, Court or Board should not pass orders for granting admission into any particular course out of time. In this context, it will have to be stated that in whatever earlier decisions of this Court such out of time admissions were granted, the same cannot be quoted as a precedent in any other case, as such directions were issued after due consideration of the peculiar facts involved in those cases. No two cases can be held to be similar in all respects."
Read the judgment here.