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NEET Admissions: Supreme Court Reserves Orders In Plea Seeking Fresh Registration In NRI Quota In Kerala Before Mop Up Counseling

Shruti Kakkar
5 May 2022 11:36 AM GMT
NEET Admissions: Supreme Court Reserves Orders In Plea Seeking Fresh Registration In NRI Quota In Kerala Before Mop Up Counseling
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The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved orders in the Special Leave Petition filed by NRI students seeking time for fresh registration in the NRI quota in Kerala before commencement of the Mop-Up counseling. A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Bela Trivedi considered the SLP assailing Kerala High Court's order dated April 8, 2022 which dismissed the writ appeal preferred...

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved orders in the Special Leave Petition filed by NRI students seeking time for fresh registration in the NRI quota in Kerala before commencement of the Mop-Up counseling.

A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Bela Trivedi considered the SLP assailing Kerala High Court's order dated April 8, 2022 which dismissed the writ appeal preferred by Kerala Private Medical College Management Association ("KPMCMA").

In the impugned judgment the bench headed by Chief Justice S Manikumar had said,

"Since it has been pointed out that the last date for admission for MBBS course is today 08.04.2022, as per the directions issued by the National Medical Commission, the appellants cannot be given liberty to grant time for fresh registration in NRI quota. We find that sufficient time was granted to the NRI quota candidates to exercise their option. Ext. P2 list was published as early as on 24.12.2021. Therefore, the same can only mean that no eligible NRI candidate is available to exercise option. We are not inclined to grant any relief to the appellants."

On Friday, the bench had asked the State of Kerala to carry out a fresh exercise for the 38 NRI candidates claiming admission.

This Is Computerized Process & If You Fill Up Your Option It'll Automatically Show Up: Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta

Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta for the State of Kerala commenced his submissions by apprising the bench with regards to the three categories in which the students were divided. Pursuant to the categorisation, Gupta said that at the stage of Mop Up round, the 4 candidates who had applied for the same were required to indicate the category for which they were applying. He further submitted that the NRI students were prepared to pay NRI fees for a good standard college.

"This is a computerized process & if you fill up your option it'll automatically show up. If there were 4 persons who had opted NRI in colleges where three are NRI vacancies, the computer would have automaticity shown up and then the seats would have gone from 48 to 44. Persons who are getting it are in the merit much more. There are many more students in higher merit in the general category," Senior Counsel further submitted.

State Could Not Convert The Seats At Stage Of Mop Up Since They Still Had To Conduct The Round Of Stray Counseling; Question Of Seats Being Unavailed Under 5.5.4 Can Only Be Done After The Mop Up Rounds; 614 Registered As NRI For 385 Seats  : Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi

Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi appearing for the NRI students submitted that the exercise carried by the State was like creating a category within the category. Emphasizing on the State flipping seats belonging to NRI category to general category at the stage of Mop Up round, Ahmadi said that the State could not convert the seats at the stage of Mop Up since they still had to conduct the round of stray counseling.

"There is a category which is promulgated by the committee itself & these are all registered NRI candidates. When you issue notification in respect of mop up round, you have a fresh option to students & at that stage it was possible for any students to swap the categories. Despite the persons paying fees of 1 lakh, when they tried paying the NRI option, they weren't able to click that. So far as 7 students are concerned, they were registered at NRI. If there were not many students at the time of mop up, they should have conducted another round and they did the flip at the Mop Up stage. They could not have done it at the stage of mop up. They still had a round of stray counseling," Ahmadi further submitted.

"Students also, you know, it's not a gamble. They wanted NRI seats in particular colleges," remarked Justice DY Chandrachud at this juncture.

Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi further submitted that at least the students who had registered the option as NRI should have been permitted to apply in different colleges.

"Before the High Court the impression sought to be given that there were enough NRI seats. We have been kept in the dark, all the NRI candidates. 614 registered as NRI for 385 seats and they were not informed that the seats were abegging. Question of seats being unavailed under 5.5.4 can only be done after the mop Up rounds. As on 30th March 2022, when a request was made to register NRI fresh applicants the comm itself represented that there were 300 NRI Applicants and thus there is no question of registering more students. Committee fully knew that there are enough NRI students. If they were told that they would be able to get admission, they would have opted for them as well," Ahmadi further submitted.

Urging for the bench to cancel the 45 admissions that were granted by converting the seats belonging to NRI category to general category, he also submitted that there was an element of ambiguity in the entire process and was a fiddle and was done to eschew NRI candidates as they wanted to include 45 general category candidates.

This Is A Common Misunderstanding On Part Of The State & State Prospectus Does Not Provide For Conversion Of Seats. NRI Seats Are Created By Law Under Article 142 And The State Is Bound By That By Virtue : Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave

Appearing for the Kerala Private Medical College Management Association, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave while referring to the ratio laid down in T.M.A.Pai Foundation & Ors vs State Of Karnataka & Ors, P.A. Inamdar & Ors vs State Of Maharashtra & Ors and Modern Dental College & Res.Cen. vs State Of Madhya Pradesh & Ors submitted that the State was not telling what the law was.

"State is not telling what the law is. 11 Judges in TMA Pai, 7 in Inamdar, 3 in modern dental have unequivocally held that NRI seats are not to be filled by state quota and the management is supposed to fill the seats. This is a common misunderstanding on part of the state & state prospectus does not provide for conversion of seats. NRI seats are created by law under art 142 and the state is bound by that by virtue of 141. It's sad that the state has taken law into their own hands," he further submitted.

Terming the prospectus issued by the State consisting "adhocism", Dave said, "Even if admissions are made contrary to requirement, students need to go. State has no power or jurisdiction & state admits it in the prospectus. There are adhodicms in Kerala prospectus."

"Everything has been done in secret. Nobody was given a single notice. Neither the institutions nor the students. There is a greater principle here & that is the law declared by the highest court of land and the rationale declared by this court & if that is ignored by the state. They have no statutory power to touch the seats & it's only the prospectus that they are relying on. NRI is inviolable. This matter deserves to be allowed & direct for fresh mop up in case of 45 seats & whoever is eligible, they need to be accommodated," he further submitted.

Urging the bench to permit the State to file an affidavit, Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta said, "We have still not filed an affidavit, so far we have just been dealing with 7 students because it appeared that we have missed out something. & if it requires a long hearing, MCI should be heard. Kindly permit me to file my proper affidavit."

These Are Specific Categories Within The General. NRI Quota Is Nothing But A Reservation: Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta

Responding to the submissions made by the counsels for the petitioners, Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta submitted that the process followed by the State was transparent.

"It's for a student to decide where he wants to make an application. Colleges can't come to court and say that you apply with us now. The time schedule is very short here so if someone says to give me further notice, call me up, that just cannot operate like this. Far from it being a fiddle, it's as transparent as it gets. It comes out of the computer and that's it. Every opportunity is given to the student to choose whatever they wish to do and in this case 12 persons have not given the doc and they didn't make it to the list. Now if we are confined to persons in the list, 7 there has been a detailed look at. Flipping is done in accordance with MCC guidelines," submitted Ahmadi.

Terming the exercise which the petitioners were insisting on the court to order, Gupta said,

"High Court has decided to give broad interpretation to the prospectus and they are inclusive classes. NRI comes under the head of general reservation in this prospectus. Today if it is held that there cannot be a conversion then these seats cannot be ipso facto offered to the students because you will have to allow their other prayer of reopening the registration alothergher to allow 19 persons and bring 12 persons- you will have to give them fresh oopp for documentation and if they could not give documentation in round1, 3 didn't exercise that option. This exercise is too far-fetched. This is a practical solution and older judgments were before the current round of legislation taking place. Seats have been occupied by persons who are higher in merit."

Case Details : Maha P and others versus State of Kerala and others | SLP(c) 7293/2022

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