Maha medical admissions: HC stays domicile reservation in deemed, private institutes.

01-05-2017
HT

The Bombay high court on Sunday stayed the recent government resolution (GR) introducing 67.5% reservation for students domiciled in Maharashtra and 25% reservation for backward categories for post-graduation (PG) deemed medical and dental colleges. A person born in Maharashtra or has lived in the state for 15 years has domicile status.

The judgment came in response to a plea opposing the GR filed by some students who graduated from medical colleges in the state, but are now living outside Maharashtra. They are seeking admission in PG courses in colleges in the state. A division bench of justice Shantanu Kemkar and justice Anant Badar stayed the April 27 GR terming it “arbitrary and unreasonable” because it changed the eligibility criteria mid-way through the admission process. The bench found the GR was “prima facie” unsustainable in the eyes of the law and stayed its operation until further orders.

According to the GR, 50% seats for PG courses in private and deemed medical and dental colleges, in addition to half of the 35% institution quota seats — 17.5% seats — were to be filled with students domiciled in Maharashtra. For the first time, 25% of the seats in deemed medical and dental institutes were also reserved for candidates from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Vimukta Jati, Nomadic Tribes and Other Backward Classes.

Currently, the government and private institutes have 50% and 25% of their seats reserved for these students. While the online admission process for post-graduate medical courses in all government, civic and private medical colleges across Maharashtra started in January 2017 and the first merit list was to be published on April 30, the medical education department issued the GR, which in one stroke made several candidates who did their MBBS courses from colleges in Maharashtra ineligible for admission to post-graduate medical courses in the state.

Five such students, who are not domiciled in Maharashtra, approached high court through advocate Pooja Thorat challenging the controversial GR. They said the state had no authority to modify the earlier rules at a later stage in admission.

The counsel for the state, on the other hand, contended that at a time when the selection list has already been published, there should be no interference in the admission process. The state justified that a higher number of medical practitioners domiciled in Maharashtra are needed to provide healthcare in the state.

However, the court decided to provide interim relief to the petitioners and asked the state to file its reply within two weeks. The court also directed the medical education department to take appropriate corrective steps, in view of the fact that the first merit list was already published on Sunday (April 30) by the time the order was passed.

The state, which was planning to come up with a similar GR for undergraduate (UG) courses, will now move the Supreme Court (SC) against the HC order. “We will see what the SC has to say on the matter. Based on that, we will issue new rules for UG courses,” said Pravin Shingare, director at the state’s directorate of medical education and research (DMER).

Colleges had also criticised the government ‘control’ over their admission process and were planning to intervene in the matter. “Due to domicile reservation, the deemed colleges may find it difficult to fill their seats. Their high fees will deter many Maharashtra-domiciled candidates from seeking admission there in these institutes. The state should provide them ample time to fill their seats with students from outside the state, in case the reserved seats remain vacant,” said a parent.

Deemed colleges have welcomed by the judgment. “Whatever rules are to be framed, should have been framed early on. If the rules are changed at the eleventh hour, everyone from students to parents will panic,” said the spokesperson for a deemed medical college.

It remains to be seen whether the state will issue a fresh list for selection. “We will plead before HC to give us some time to implement its order. In that period, we will try to get a stay on the order. Otherwise, we will have to issue a fresh list,” said Shingare.

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