The Supreme Court Division Bench comprising of Justices Deepak Mishra and Prafulla C. Pant while dismissing a batch of petitions filed by some MBBS doctors complaining about eligibility criteria for admissions to certain courses – D.M. (Doctor of Medicine) and M.Ch. (Master of Chirurgiae) expressed its opinion that the Government of India and the State Governments shall seriously consider of doing away with reservation of seats in medical super-speciality courses.
The petition came up challenging the policy of certain states, viz., Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, confining eligibility to medical super-speciality courses to the candidates having domicile in their respective states. According to the petitioners the fall out of the restriction is that candidates having the domicile in the said States can appear in other States’ entrance examination without any restriction and compete with other candidates, and the said situation creates a clear disparity making way for a state of inequality to reign in the aforesaid three States.
They also averred that that the institutes with super-specialty courses are distributed all over India in a heterogeneous manner and the States like, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Sikkim, Uttarakhand are not having any government institutes offering super-specialty courses and the candidates from the said States have to depend on the other States’ entrance examinations to seek a career in the discipline they are interested, but for the restriction imposed by the States like, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, they are deprived of the opportunity to participate in the entrance examination.
It was urged in the writ petition that the restraint imposed by the aforesaid three States amounts to reservation in respect of the post-graduate level; and as far as the super-speciality courses are concerned, the question of reservation based on residence or institutional preference is totally impermissible, for merit cannot be compromised by making reservation on the consideration, like residential requirement, as that would be absolutely against the national interest and plays foul of equality clause engrafted in the Constitution.
As per Andhra Pradesh Educational Institutions (Regulations and Admissions) Order 1974 issued under Article 371-D of the Constitution and G.O.P. No.646 dated 10th July, 1979 circular issued by the State of Andhra Pradesh, 85% seats in super-speciality courses are reserved for local candidates (candidates residing within the prescribed local jurisdiction of the university) and the remaining 15% has been kept unreserved subject to the control of state. The state governments are of the stand that the unreserved 15% do not include candidates from outside the state. Though the Court examined the scope of the order and the circular it did not go into the question of their constitutional validity as the same was not challenged. The matter pertaining to Tamil Nadu has been posted on November 4, 2015.
Earlier in Dr Pradeep Jain’s case the Apex Court had observed that in Super Specialities there should really be no reservation in the general interest of the country and for improving the standard of higher education and thereby improving the quality of available medical services to the people of India. In that judgment the court had expressed its hope that the Government of India and the State Governments would seriously consider this aspect of the matter without delay. It was also directed that appropriate guidelines shall be evolved by the Indian Medical Council so as to keep the Super Specialities in medical education unreserved, open and free.
Reiterating the observations made in Dr.Pradeep Jain’s case the Court stated that “The fond hope has remained in the sphere of hope though there has been a progressive change. The said privilege remains unchanged, as if to compete with eternity. Therefore, we echo the same feeling and reiterate the aspirations of others so that authorities can objectively assess and approach the situation so that the national interest can become paramount. We do not intend to add anything in this regard.”
Read the Judgment here.