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VALIDITY OF DOMICILE BASED RESERVATION FOR ADMISSION TO POST GRADUATE MEDICAL COURSES – REFERR

TANVI BEHL V SHREY GOEL & ORS., CIVIL APPEAL NO. 9289 OF 2019 (ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NO. 12918 OF 2019)

This appeal was brought to the Supreme Court of India before the bench consisting of Honourable Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Honourable Justice Dinesh Maheshwari.

These four appeals by special leave, directed against the common judgment and order dated 23.04.2019, as passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh in CWP No. 8234 of 2019 (O&M) and CWP No. 9565 of 2019 (O&M) and involving essentially the same questions relating to the legality and validity of domicile/residence-based reservation for admission to the Post Graduate Medical Courses in Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, have been considered together and shall be governed by this common order.

ISSUES RAISED BY THIS HONOURABLE COURT


Whether in the wake of the condition imposed in the prospectus coupled with the fact of a singular institute in the territorial boundary of UT Chandigarh preference contemplated in the prospectus would tantamount to 100% reservation in favour of the incumbents having completed their MBBS course from Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh or not.

Whether the candidates who have done their schooling in Chandigarh or are connected to the City of Chandigarh would need to be treated preferentially or not.

APPELLANTS CONTENTION

The substance of submissions on behalf of the private appellants, the candidates who had secured admission in the respective branches of PG Medical Courses in the said Medical College, hasd been that the High Court has erroneously held the domicile/residence-based reservation to be impermissible for admission to the PG Medical Courses. The learned counsel appearing for the respective appellants argued that even when a three- Judge Bench of this Court in the Dr. Pradeep Jain etc. vs. Union of India and others expressed its disapproval of domicile/residence-based reservation for admission to PG Medical Courses, the Constitution Bench of this Court in Saurabh Chaudri and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors.: 2013 (11) SCC 146 has not disapproved such domicile/residence-based reservation. It was further contended that the criteria as laid down by UT Chandigarh and its Medical College cannot be said to be offending the principle of equality; and the High Court has seriously erred in treating the same to be arbitrary and unlawful. It was also been contended on behalf of these appellants that in any case, the High Court could not have set aside the admissions that had been made for the academic year 2019-20, particularly when counselling of the candidates had been completed and in fact, there was no specific prayer for setting aside the admissions already given. In the alternative part of submissions, it was contended in the appeal arising out of SLP(C) No. 1141 of 2019 that this aspect of reservation based on domicile/residence for admission to PG Medical Courses is required to be reconsidered and decided by a Larger Bench of this Court.

According to the learned counsel, criteria for filling up the remaining State Quota seats came to be reflected in Clause 2B of the prospectus; and the criteria so provided by the appellants are neither invalid nor suffer from any illegality, to be struck down. The learned counsel also referred to the provisions made by various other States and Union Territories for the purpose of filling up the State Quota seats; and has pointed out that not only the UT Chandigarh but several other States and Union Territories have made similar provisions on domicile/residence-based preference for filling up such 50% State Quota seats in PG Medical Courses.

RESPONDENTS CONTENTION

Per contra, learned senior counsel for private respondents (the writ petitioners) submitted that in accord with the said decisions, these respondents, having passed their M.B.B.S. course and having applied under ‘institutional quota’, were entitled for admission to the PG Medical Courses under the said quota of institutional preference but were deprived of the same because of the impugned domicile/residence-based reservation provided by the Medical College. It was also contended that the issue involved in the present matters is no more res integra as the reservation in PG Medical Courses based on place of birth and/or residence/domicile have been disapproved, being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India; and that admission to specialized courses should be based on merit alone.

The learned senior counsel further submitted that in the order impugned, the High Court had rightly observed that there was no nexus of the classification prescribed with the objective sought to be achieved i.e., allotting 50% of State Quota seats. According to the learned counsel, domicile/residence-based reservation had rightly been disapproved in the order impugned. The learned counsel for the Medical Council of India also made extensive reference to the aforesaid decisions, including those in Dr. Pradeep Jain and Saurabh Chaudri and has submitted that, for the law settled by this Court in Saurabh Chaudri, 50% seats of the total seats in the PG Medical Courses are All India Quota Seats and are to be filled up from the All India Merit List.

Learned counsel submitted that the impugned Clause 2B of the prospectus was violative of the principle of equality enshrined under Article 14 of the Constitution and was also contrary to the various judicial pronouncements of this Court and, therefore, liable to be quashed. The learned counsel also placed on record a chart showing the policy of 21 States in applying institutional preference/reservation along with relevant portion of brochures/Information Bulletin published by the respective States. The learned counsel for Medical Council in the last submitted that if at all the admissions are to be cancelled, manual counselling may be ordered only in relation to those students who have not joined and taken admission in any other college because any other proposition may upset the entire process of studies in the respective PG Medical Courses.

OBSERVATION MADE BY THE COURT

This Honourable Court observed in the passing that regarding the case at hand,

the High Court had indicated several reasons for its disapproval of the stipulations made in impugned Clause 2B of the prospectus in question. Prima facie, it appeared that even if domicile/residence-based reservation in admission to PG Medical Courses was held permissible, the mode and modalities for its application would still require further examination because it remained questionable if such reservation could be applied by way of such stipulations, as made in the impugned Clause 2B of the prospectus in question. Having said so and for the order proposed to be passed in these matters, the court did not find it necessary to enter into microscopic analysis of the sub-clauses pertaining to domicile/residence-based reservation as occurring in the impugned Clause 2B of the prospectus in question and decided to leave such questions open to be determined on the basis of answers to the root questions by the Larger Bench.

DECISION MADE BY THE COURT

After observing the facts and circumstances of the case, this Honourable Court came to a decision as under,

“Accordingly we would propose the following questions to be examined

by a Larger Bench of this Court :


As to whether providing for domicile/residence-based reservation in admission to “PG Medical Courses” within the State Quota is constitutionally invalid and is impermissible?

(a) If answer to the first question is in the negative and if domicile/residence-based reservation in admission to “PG Medical Courses” is permissible, what should be the extent and manner of providing such domicile/residence-based reservation for admission to “PG Medical Courses” within the State Quota seats?
(b) Again, if domicile/residence-based reservation in admission to “PG Medical Courses” is permissible, considering that all the admissions are to be based on the merit and rank obtained in NEET, what should be the modality of providing such domicile/residence based reservation in relation to the State/UT having only one Medical College?
  1. If answer to the first question is in the affirmative and if domicile/residence-based reservation in admission to “PG Medical Courses” is impermissible, as to how the State Quota seats, other than the permissible institutional preference seats, are to be filled up?

The matters be placed before Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India for constitution of appropriate Larger Bench. The interim orders passed in these matters shall continue until further orders.”

– Tanvi Srivatsan

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