The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has held that Medical Council of India has no power to make any reservation for in-service candidates in Post Graduate Medical Course in any particular state.
The bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose observed that the power of Medical Council of India Act is referable to Entry 66, List 1, which is a limited source of power to lay down standards. It held that the Medical Council of India regulations providing for reservation for in-service candidates in PG Medical Courses are ultra vires the Medical Council of India Act.
The Court has however clarified that the judgment will apply only prospectively and will not affect any admissions already made. Justice M R Shah, who read out the judgment, expressed gratitude to all counsels for helping the constitution bench to decide the issue through virtual court.
The Court further observed that States can make regulations to provide reservation for in-service doctors in PG medical course and suggests that States may ask such beneficiaries to serve in rural, hilly and tribal areas for five years.
Tamil Nadu Medical Officers' Association and others had filed a writ petition before the Apex Court challenging Regulation 9(4) and (8) of the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000, as framed by the Medical Council of India. They had mainly contended that "the coordination and determination of standards in institutions for higher education" is within the exclusive domain of the Union, medical education under Entry 25, List III, though made subject to Entry 66 of List I, being an Entry in the Concurrent List, the State is not denuded of its power to legislate on the manner and method for admissions to Post Graduate Medical Courses.
The Three judge bench, while referring the case to larger bench had noted the contentions of the petitioner that that "the coordination and determination of standards in institutions for higher education" is within the exclusive domain of the Union, medical education under Entry 25, List III, though made subject to Entry 66 of List I, being an Entry in the Concurrent List, the State is not denuded of its power to legislate on the manner and method for admissions to Post Graduate Medical Courses.
In Dinesh Singh Chauhan case, a three-judge bench had held that the state cannot provide reservation to in-service candidates to PG Courses. It was also held that Regulation 9 to be a complete Code and a provision for determining the inter-se merit of the candidates including by giving weightage of marks as an incentive to eligible in-service candidates who have worked in notified remote or difficult areas in the State, which is just, reasonable and necessary in larger public interest. The Bench headed by Justice Kurian Joseph, observed: "We are of the view that Dinesh Singh Chauhan (supra), has not considered the legislative Entries in respect of the contentions 10 we have noted above. Apparently, it appears no such contentions were raised before the Court. Same is the situation with regard to the non-reference with respect to the three Constitution Bench decisions we have referred to above. As far as Modern Dental (supra) is concerned, perhaps the judgment had not been published by the time the judgment in Dinesh Singh Chauhan (supra) was rendered."
What Constitution Bench Held?
The issue considered by the Court was whether under the scheme of the Constitution and the provisions of the Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000 made by the Medical Council of India under Section 33 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, a State has any power to reserve seats for admission in postgraduate medical degree courses for the medical professionals working in governmental organisations (in-service doctors) within that State?
Justice MR Shah and Justice Aniruddha Bose delivered separate judgments but both of them held that the States possess the power to reserve seats for in-service doctors.
Justice MR Shah observed that Entry 66 List I is a specific entry having a very limited scope and it deals with "coordination and determination of standards" in higher education. The words "coordination and determination of standards would mean laying down the said standards. It was also held that the Medical Council of India which has been constituted under the provisions of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 is the creature of the statute in exercise of powers under Entry 66 List I and has no power to make any provision for reservation, more particularly, for inservice candidates by the concerned States, in exercise of powers under Entry 25 List III.
It was further observed that Regulation 9 of MCI Regulations, 2000 does not deal with and/or make provisions for reservation and/or affect the legislative competence and authority of the concerned States to make reservation and/or make special provision like the provision providing for a separate source of entry for inservice candidates seeking admission to postgraduate degree courses and therefore the concerned States to be within their authority and/or legislative competence to provide for a separate source of entry for inservice candidates seeking admission to postgraduate degree courses in exercise of powers under Entry 25 of List III.
if it is held that Regulation 9, more particularly, Regulation 9(IV) deals with reservation for inservice candidates, in that case, it will be ultra vires of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and it will be beyond the legislative competence under Entry 66 List I, Justice Shah said, while also holding that Regulation 9 of MCI Regulations, 2000 to the extent tinkering with reservation provided by the State for inservice candidates is ultra vires on the ground that it is arbitrary, discriminatory and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India;
The Court further held the State has the legislative competence and/or authority to provide for a separate source of entry for inservice candidates seeking admission to postgraduate degree/diploma courses, in exercise of powers under Entry 25, List III. However, it also observed that policy must provide that subsequent to obtaining the postgraduate degree by the concerned inservice doctors obtaining entry in degree courses through such separate channel serve the State in the rural, tribal and hilly areas at least for five years after obtaining the degree/diploma and for that they will execute bonds for such sum the respective States may consider fit and proper.
The Court clarified that the present decision shall operate prospectively and any admissions given earlier taking a contrary view shall not be affected by this judgment
Justice Bose observed that there is no bar in Clause 9 of the Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000 as it prevailed on 15th February 2012 and subsequently amended on 5th April, 2018 on individual States in providing for reservation of in-service doctors for admission into postgraduate medical degree courses.The Court observed that the view expressed in the State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors. vs. Dinesh Singh Chauhan [(2016) 9 SCC 749] to the extent it has been held in the said decision that reservation for the said category of in-service doctors by the State would be contrary to the provisions of 2000 Regulations, is incorrect.