14 Feb 2022 4:13 PM GMT
On Monday, the Supreme Court clarified that admission to 70% of the seats in the Post Graduate courses for the academic year 2021-22 at the Christian Medical College, Vellore ("CMC") shall be made from the list of Christian minority students prepared by the State of Tamil Nadu on the basis of marks obtained in the NEET-PG examination. The remaining 30% seat would be filled by the...
A Bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai made it abundantly clear that the said arrangement is meant only for the academic year 2021-2022.
"We make it clear that this order is only restrictive for admission in 2021-2022 and shall not be treated as precedent."
The Bench was hearing an interlocutory application filed in a writ petition by CMC seeking the quashing of Selection Committee's letter whereby the State of Tamil Nadu sought to impose the state policy of reserving 50% of seats ("state quota") in its favour in the undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses.
Upon hearing the Counsels for the parties extensively, vide order dated 19.01.2022, the Supreme Court had directed -
"After examining the submissions made on both sides, we are of the considered view that for the Academic Year 2021-2022, students belonging to Christian minority shall be allotted to all PG seats in the petitioner-college by the 2nd Respondent from the NEET merit list."
Senior Advocate, Mr. Shyam Diwan appearing for CMC pointed out that over the weekend the State of Tamil Nadu has published a revised list allotting seats to students only from the State of Tamil Nadu. He contended that the same was in the teeth of the Apex Court's order, which required the seats to be allotted by the State from NEET All India merit list.
"Now please take up for a moment my additional affidavit and finally…the List which has now been sent to us is Annexure 1. This is the list which was furnished to us on 19th Jan 2022. This has students from all across the country. Once your lordships' order became available to us it was quite obvious that Christian students from this list would be drawn. Unfortunately, they only drew students from the State of Tamil Nadu."
His objection to the revised list were threefold:
"So essentially the All India Merit, which, as we understood, was the direction that you have to go by NEET merit list on an all Indian basis has been completely given a go by and you now only have students from the State of Tamil Nadu who are being counselled so far as CMC is concerned. So my first point is that it is contrary to NEET which has to be AIl India merit. This is contrary to lordships' direction. Our institution is a national institution."
Referring to the revised list, Mr. Diwan submitted -
"This is the revised list of tentative Christian minority candidates, which has just been uploaded. These students from Sl. No. 1 to 596, which came over the weekend, are all from Tamil Nadu. Everyone they have counselled for the PG group are 100% from Tamil Nadu."
Senior Advocate, Ms. Anitha Shenoy appearing for some students of the CMC also argued on the lines of Mr. Diwan. She averred that nativity was never an eligibility criteria, but now by way of the revised list the seats are being allotted to natives of the State. She emphasised that her grievance was that her clients' names were there in the list published on 19.01.2022 on the basis of All India merit list. However, they have not been allotted seats as per the revised list.
"Nativity was never a part of the CMC prospectus which was issued on 06.01.2021. It is not an eligibility requirement even for the management quota. Even if one looks at the Govt. prospectus, it is one of the criteria…So, nativity which was never a part of the process, after the admission process has begun is being introduced now for the first time and as a result meritorious students are suffering. There was a list on 19.01.2021, we were there, now with respect to the new list I am out."
Apart from nativity, the benefits given to the in-service candidates were also assailed by her. She submitted that the PG candidates who are serving in the State of Tamil Nadu are eligible for reservation in Government seats, but the same benefit has not been extended to management seats.
"Second grievance, they have introduced a criteria, which is service incentive criteria for those who have served in the TN Govt. This service incentive was never applicable to management quota. These were given only qua Govt. seats in Govt. colleges and Govt. seats in management colleges. Nativity and service incentive which was never a part has been introduced now. I am aggrieved by these two."
Additional Advocate General, Mr. Amit Anand Tiwari, appearing on behalf of the State of Tamil Nadu submitted that from the academic year 2021-2022, admissions to PG courses are to be undertaken on the basis of religious minority as per NEET score by following 50:50 seat sharing. Precisely, for 50% of the seats a merit list is prepared by the State. On management quota applications are invited on an All India basis and those who apply get seats in order of merit without being given benefit of their minority status or any other reservation.
The Bench was of the view that the fact that Christian students coming from outside the State would not be entitled for admission in the State of Tamil Nadu as they would not be treated as Christians, should have been highlighted when the order dated 19.01.2022 was being dictated in the open Court.
Apologising for the same, Mr. Tiwari referred to Regulation 5 of the Postgraduate Regulations, 2017, to argue that it requires that two merit lists are prepared. One is the State merit list and the other is the All India merit list. The admission taken in the States are based on the State merit list, whereas the Director-General of Health Services conducts counselling from the All India merit list for allotting 15% All India Quota and allotting seats in deemed universities.
The Bench enquired about the procedure followed by CMC the previous years.
Referring to the affidavit filed by CMC, Mr. Tiwari responded that the sponsoring Dioceses recommend names of the candidates. The same is forwarded to the selection committee, who upon verification recommend the names for admission. The list is then forwarded to the State Government for approval.
He emphasised that the admission to CMC, till last year, was restricted to Protestant Christians. Mr. Diwan's plea seeking allotment as per the All India merit list was controverted by Mr. Tiwari, as he argued that on previous occasions,CMC management had also not allotted seats as per the All India list, as they had categorically excluded Non-Protestant Christians.
"They restricted admission to only protestant christian minority. It was never an All India kind of merit list. Even non-protestant Christian students were not given admission by them…"
On the issue of in-service candidates being given incentive marks, he argued that the Regulation required the State to allot the incentive marks for preparation of the merit list.
Senior Advocate, Mr. Dama Seshadri Naidu appeared on behalf of students, who are from other States; have completed MBBS course at CMC, but are not being considered for admission on the basis of residence being a requirement. He argued that even though they have been in Tamil Nadu for more than five years, they have not been given the benefit of nativity. He pointed out that the nativity benefit has not been extended to private unaided colleges.
Mr. Diwan suggested if it was possible to come up with an arrangement for 50:50 seat sharing, wherein 50% seats would be allotted as per the revised State list and 50% from the list published on 19.01.2022, so that some people from All India list also find place in the institute.
The Bench informed Mr. Tiwari -
"For this year we are saying that 70% will be from students allotted by you, 30% by them as earlier."
Without entering into the merit of the submissions made by the Counsels, the Bench was of the view that admission for academic year 2021-2022 shall be made in the following terms -
70% admissions shall be made from a list of Christian Minority students prepared by the State of Tamil Nadu and remaining 30% seats shall be filled by the management of CMC in compliance with the procedure followed in the previous academic year.
The Bench further clarified that -
The students who have completed an MBBS course in CMC Vellore should be treated as residents on the basis of the extant policy followed by the State of Tamil Nadu.
On the request of Mr. Tiwari, who alleged that CMC was imposing unnecessary conditions like imposing a requirement for a bond of Rs. 1.25 crore, the Bench asked Mr. Diwan to ensure that CMC does not raise any new conditions for admission at this juncture.
Mr. Diwan apprised the Bench, that every year 10% seats are allotted to dependants of staff members of CMC, notwithstanding the fact that they don't belong to the Christian community.
Considering the practice followed by the institute, the Bench directed that the allotment of 10% seats to the children of such staff members would be included in the 30% seats to be filled by CMC management.
[Case Title: Christian Medical College Vellore v. State of TN W.P.(C) No. 8/2022]
Click Here To Read/Download Order