Observing that “the pandemic had claimed many reputed doctors and the doctors’ pool needed to be replenished fast”, the Bombay High Court recently directed the Dadra and Nagar Haveli Union Territory (UT) administration to create an additional seat for a meritorious student who did not get admission for the MBBS course during the regular admission process as well as the mop-up round.
The petitioner, who scored 96 percentile (559 marks) in the NEET exam, approached the HC after students having a score of 219 marks in NEET got admission, while she was refused as there were no clear guidelines in the admission brochure about seats reverted from all-India quota to state quota if they were not filled up.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni on February 27 passed a judgement on a writ petition filed by Annu Pyarelal Sinsinwar, a “highly meritorious student” who pointed out that out of the total 177 seats available to be filled up by NAMO Medical Education and Research Institute, Silvassa, 15% of seats (nearly 22) were to be filled up from the all-India quota. Of those 22 seats, four remained vacant and were repatriated to be filled up by the institute on December 9, 2020.
Senior counsel Anil Anturkar, representing the petitioner, submitted that though she had scored a high percentile, she was refused admission to the only medical college the UT started in Silvassa in 2019.
He submitted that though his client was domiciled in the UT and had completed her secondary education in Silvassa, she had pursued higher secondary education for class 11 and 12 in Rajasthan. This led to the student being ineligible for admission to the MBBS course based on the first three priorities stipulated in the admission brochure for academic year 2020-21. As the petitioner had failed to secure admission in all-India quota through the reserved quota, she sought admission in mop-up round based on merit to one of the four repatriated seats
The petitioner said that as there were no specific rules on the manner in which these four repatriated seats would be filled up, the institute arbitrarily gave admission through state/UT quota and allotted the same based on the three stipulated priorities.
Anturkar submitted that as per Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997, of the Medical Council of India, for filling up such seats, criteria on merit should have been the only yardstick, however, as the institute did not do so, the efforts of the students would be wasted, and therefore sought direction from HC to direct the institute to grant her admission considering her high merit.
Advocate Sunny Punnamiya, appearing for the four students who were allotted the reverted seats, submitted that they were not at fault and cancelling their admission would result in hardship and hence the court should consider their interest while passing the verdict.
After perusing submissions, Justice Kulkarni, who authored the judgment, observed that since the case was “peculiar”, and in such a situation “in the interest of justice”, the petitioner be accommodated without disturbing the admissions to the four students so that their “educational interest” is not disturbed. The judge said that in absence of specific rules, the institute was required to adopt the reverted seats “only and only on merits of candidates” who were otherwise ineligible without the application of the other priorities.
In view of this, the court directed the UT authorities and the institute to admit Sinsinswar by creating an additional seat in the first year of MBBS course.
CJ Datta, who concurred with Justice Kulkarni, separately observed, “The drowsy default of the executive to acknowledge merit and give it due recognition has to be frowned upon, on the facts and in the circumstances.”
Disposing of the plea, CJ Datta observed, “The admission process, in my view, suffers from a serious taint and if such tainted process is saved, the rule of merit would be compromised, which, in turn, would frustrate the labour of meritorious students like the petitioner, apart from development in them of a sense of aversion to the concept of qualifying examinations.”
The CJ added, “Covid-19, in the past year, has taken away from the society a number of reputed doctors. The pool of doctors, thus, has to be replenished fast. If meritorious students desirous of becoming doctors are not encouraged in such challenging times, it would amount to a grave disservice to the society. Our resolve to render social justice would be a distant dream, if interference in this case were declined.”