corporate laws – Education Laws – Neet PG- 44 Doctors who did their MBBS/BDS Courses from State of Karnataka and have cleared the NEET-PG, 2018 examination with high merit position and are aspiring for admission to Post-Graduate Courses in Karnataka. The principal prayer in the writ petition seeks issuance of an appropriate writ, order or direction quashing Clause 4 of the Information Bulletin jointly issued by Directorate of Medical Education, = the Information Bulletin for PGET-2014 did not actually give institutional preference to students who had passed MBBS/BDS from Colleges or universities in State of Karnataka but made some of them ineligible to take the entrance test for admission to PostGraduate Medical or Dental Course in State of Karnataka and that said clause was held ultra vires Article 14 of the Constitution and declared null and void. The relevant clause under consideration, namely, Clause 4.1 of the Information Bulletin for PGET-2018 is identical in substance to the one that was considered in Vishal Goyal (supra). The matter is thus no longer resintegra and is completely covered by the decision in Vishal Goyal (supra). In the circumstances, we respectfully follow the decision of this Court in Vishal Goyal (supra) and hold Clause 4.1 of the Information Bulletin (PGET-2018) which was published on the website on 10.03.2018 to be invalid to the extent it disqualifies petitioners and similarly situated candidates who completed their MBBS/BDS Degree Courses from colleges situated in Karnataka from competing for admission to Post-Graduate Medical/Dental Courses in Government Medical Colleges and against government quota seats in non-governmental institutions This writ petition stands allowed in the aforesaid terms. State of Karnataka and Respondent Nos.2 and 3 are directed to suitably modify and amend the Information Bulletin in question in keeping with the observations made in this Judgment and re-publish the Calendar of Events in terms of this Judgment and complete the entire process within the timeline stipulated by the concerned regulatory authorities.

1

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.204 OF 2018

Dr. Kriti Lakhina and Others ….Petitioners

Versus

State of Karnataka and Others …. Respondents

J U D G M E N T

Uday Umesh Lalit, J.

1. This petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India has been

filed by 44 Doctors who did their MBBS/BDS Courses from State of

Karnataka and have cleared the NEET-PG, 2018 examination with high

merit position and are aspiring for admission to Post-Graduate Courses in

Karnataka. The principal prayer in the writ petition seeks issuance of an

appropriate writ, order or direction quashing Clause 4 of the Information

Bulletin jointly issued by Directorate of Medical Education, Government of

2

Karnataka and Karnataka Examinations Authority, Government of

Karnataka, Respondent Nos.2 and 3 respectively.

2. The Information Bulletin in question lays down, inter alia, conditions

for admission to Post-Graduate Medical and Dental Courses in respect of

government quota seats in Medical/Dental Colleges in State of Karnataka

and was published on the website on 10.03.2018. Relevant portion of

Clause 4 of this Information Bulletin deals with eligibility conditions in

following terms:

“4. ELIGIBILITY

4.1 ELIGIBILITY for Government seats (G) &GMP

seats:

A candidate who fulfills the following criteria is eligible

to appear for the online seat allotment process, namely:-

 He/she is a citizen of India, who is of Karnataka Origin

and has studied MBBS or BDS degree in a Medical or Dental

College situated in Karnataka or outside Karnataka and

affiliated to any University established by law in India

recognized by Medical Council of India or Dental Council of

India and Government of India and has qualified in the NEET

(National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test) for admission to post

graduate medical or dental degree/diploma courses.

Note: Children for the purpose of the rule means natural born

son/daughter and not adopted son/daughter and not

grandson/grand daughter.

3

Explanation: A candidate of Karnataka Origin: means, a

candidate found eligible under clause A or B below.

(Clause A)

i) A candidate who has studied and passed in one or more

Government or Government recognized, educational

institutions located in the State of Karnataka for a minimum

period of TEN academic years as on the 31st March, 2018,

commencing for 1st standard to MBBS/BDS and must have

appeared and passed either SSLC/10th standard or 2nd PUC/12th

standard examination from Karnataka State. In case of the

candidate who has taken more than one year to pass a class or

standard, the year of academic study is counted as one year

only (Document to be produced)

(Clause B)

ii) The candidate should have studied and passed 1st and 2nd

year Pre-University Examination or 11th or 12th standard

examination within the State of Karnataka from an Educational

Institution run or recognized by the State Government or

MBBS/BDS from a professional educational institution located

in Karnataka and that either of the parents must have

studied/resided in Karnataka for a minimum period of 10 years.

(Documents to be produced)”

3. It is submitted by the petitioners that this Information Bulletin issued

by Respondent Nos.2 and 3, to the extent Clause 4.1 thereof imposes a

condition of domicile for admission to MD, MS and Post-Graduate Diploma

seats in State of Karnataka is invalid and unconstitutional. According to the

petitioners said Clause 4.1 arbitrarily and illegally deprives the petitioners

who had obtained MBBS/BDS Degrees from the Colleges situated in

4

Karnataka from competing for admission to Post-Graduate Medical/Dental

Curses in Government Medical Colleges and against Government quota

seats in non-Governmental institutions. Reliance has been placed on the

Judgment of this Court in Vishal Goyal and Others v. State of Karnataka

and Others1

to submit that the controversy is no longer res-integra and the

view taken in Vishal Goyal (supra) ought to have been adhered to by

Respondent Nos.2 and 3 while issuing the Bulletin.

4. Since the matter involves urgency and the career prospects of the

petitioners and similarly situated candidates are in question, the matter was

taken up for hearing immediately. State of Karnataka entered appearance

and has filed its reply submitting inter alia, that under the eligibility

conditions, only candidates of Karnataka origin could compete for admission

to 50% government seats in government colleges and against government

quota seats in private colleges. The reply further stated that these eligibility

conditions were stipulated in order to ensure that the State’s requirement of

skilled human resource is met with and that the Post-Graduate Medical

Education Regulation 2000 (‘2000 Regulations’ for short) of Medical

Council of India do not prohibit the State from stipulating eligibility

conditions for Post-Graduate courses. According to certain statistics given

1

(2014) 11 SCC 456

5

in the reply, candidates of Karnataka origin numbering 4093 candidates

would be competing for admission to 1828 seats while 10003 candidates of

origin other than Karnataka which number includes 1263 candidates from

outside the State who had studied and completed MBBS/BDS Courses from

the colleges situated in Karnataka would be competing for admission to

2301 seats. The reply further submitted that the State was within its right to

formulate eligibility conditions to give preference to candidates who were

most likely to serve the State.

5. In its reply, Medical Council of India (“MCI”, for short) submitted

that the Information Bulletin (PGET-2014) issued by the State of Karnataka

in the year 2014 contained similar eligibility criteria as provided in Clause

4.1 of the present Information Bulletin (PGET-2018) which was challenged

in the case of Vishal Goyal (supra) and that this Court held the preference

based on domicile to be violative of the principle of equality and liable to be

set aside. After referring to various Judgments of this Court the reply set

out the emerging legal position as perceived by MCI in following terms:-

“a. Reservation of seats at the post graduate level has been in

principle disapproved by the Hon’ble Supreme Court;

b. Reservation of seats at the post graduate level on the

basis of domicile/ residence/ place of origin is impermissible

and cannot be done by the State;

6

c. Institutional reservation/ preference for reserving seats at

the post graduate level is permissible subject to an outer limit of

50%;

d. Institutional reservation/ preference can be invalidated on

the ground that the same is violative of the principle of equality

enshrined under Article 14 of the Constitution of India;

e. There cannot be any domicile requirement imposed by

the State while implementing institutional reservation;

f. Institutional reservation/ preference disguised as domicile

reservation has been held to be invalid and violative of Article

14 of the Constitution.”

6. We heard Mr. Amrendra Sharan, learned Senior Advocate for the

petitioners, Mr. Basavaprabhu S. Patil, learned Senior Advocate for State of

Karnataka and official respondents and Mr. Gaurav Sharma, learned

Advocate for MCI.

7. Mr. Sharan, learned Senior Advocate relied upon the decisions of this

Court in Dr. Pradeep Jain and Others v. Union of India and Others2

,

Saurabh Chaudri and Others v. Union of India and Others3

, Magan

Mehrotra and Others v. Union of India and Others4

, Nikhil Himthani v.

State of Uttarakhand and Others5

and finally on the decision of this Court

in Vishal Goyal (supra). In his submission these decisions as culminated in

2

(1984) 3 SCC 654 paras 20, 22 and 24

3

(2003) 11 SCC 146 paras 29, 69 and 70

4

(2003)11 SCC 186 paras 3 and 8

5

(2013) 10 SCC 237 para 3

7

the decision in Vishal Goyal (supra) fully conclude the matter. These

submissions were supported by Mr. Gaurav Sharma, learned Advocate for

the MCI.

8. Mr. Patil, learned Senior Advocate, on the other hand relied upon the

decision of this Court in D.P. Joshi v. State of Madhya Bharat and

Another6

and on paragraphs 6, 13 and 16 of the decision in Dr. Pradeep

Jain (supra), in support of his submissions.

9. After conclusion of hearing, written submissions were filed by the

parties. In their written submissions, petitioners inter alia submitted that

Clause 4.1 of the Information Bulletin in question was violative of Article 14

of the Constitution and was opposed to Regulation 9 of 2000 Regulations. A

chart was appended showing similarity between Clause 2 of PGET-2014

which was subject matter of the decision in Vishal Goyal (supra) and the

present Clause 4.1. In its written submissions MCI also relied upon 2000

Regulations and specially Regulation 9 thereof. It was further submitted:

“It is important to note that there are primarily two types of

courses at post-graduate level i.e. post-graduate diploma

courses and post graduate degree courses. On a close reading

of Regulation 9(IV) and 9(VII) the distinction between post

graduate diploma course and post-graduate degree course is

apparent. It needs to be emphasized that as per Regulation 9

6

AIR 1955 SC 334 = 1955 (1) SCR 1215

8

and the amendments made therein from time to time,

reservation of seats for in-service candidates is only permissible

in post-graduate diploma courses. Further, there is no provision

under the IMC Act, 1956 and the Regulations framed

thereunder which permits reservation in post-graduate degree

courses.”

10. State of Karnataka in its written submissions sought to justify the

action but did not explain how the decision in Vishal Goyal (supra) would

not be applicable in the present case. It was however submitted:-

“The State of Karnataka has 11615 Public Health Care

Institutions managed by the Health and Family Department of

the State. It is the objective of the State to provide secondary

and tertiary care services too within the reach of common

public. This objective is sought to be fulfilled by setting up of

new State of the art institutions and strengthen the existing

institutions through provisions of equipments, up-gradation of

infrastructure and recruitment of skilled man power. Today,

there are 3435 posts of specialists about which 1312 are vacant,

underlying the deficiency of skilled medical professional to

address the health care needs of the State. In the medical and

dental educational institutions out of 2700 posts of specialists,

517 are vacant highlighting the deficiency of skilled medical

teachers to address the medical teachers’ needs of the State. 16

out of 39 medical colleges in Karnataka are run by the State.

There are 970 senior resident posts in these medical colleges,

524 of which are vacant. The State has to ensure that these

posts are filled up at any given point of time as stipulated by

Medical Council of India. If these remain vacant for want of

specialist, de-recognition looms large with the risk of

jeopardizing the future of both undergraduate and post-graduate

candidates’ studying in these colleges. The posts of senior

resident need to be filled by fresh post graduates passing out

every year. There is a huge requirement of specialists to run

these institutions. Hence the State Government has to ensure

9

availability of adequate number of post graduates to fill these

posts.”

11. The decision of this Court in Dr. Pradeep Jain (supra) had considered

the Judgments rendered in Kumari N. Vasundara v. State of Mysore and

Another7

, Minor P. Rajendran v. State of Madras and Others8

, Minor A.

Peeriakaruppan v. State of Tamil Nadu and Others9

and D.N. Chanchala

v. The State of Mysore and Others10 as well as the decision in Dr. Jagadish

Saran and others v. Union of India11 and finally concluded:

“…. We unreservedly condemn wholesale reservation made by

some of the State Government on the basis of institutional

preference for students who have passed the qualifying

examination held by the university or the State excluding all

students not satisfying this requirement, regardless of merit.

We declare such wholesale reservation to be unconstitutional

and void as being in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.”

12. During the course of its Judgment in Dr. Pradeep Jain (supra) this

Court also considered the impact of submissions from the concerned States

as advanced in various Judgments that were considered in paragraphs 14 to

16, which submissions were similar to the ones advanced before us by the

State either in the reply or in the written submissions. Para 22 of the

7

(1971) Suppl. SCR 381 = (1971) 2 SCC 22

8

1968 (2) SCR 786

9

1971 (2) SCR 430 = (1971) 1 SCC 38 = AIR 1971 SC 2303

10 (1971) Suppl SCR 608 = (1971) 2 SCC 293

11 (1980) 2 SCC 768= 1980 (2) SCR 831

10

decision in Dr. Pradeep Jain (supra) finally summed up the matter as

regards post graduate courses as under:-

“22. ….. The Medical Education Review Committee has also

expressed the opinion that “all admissions to the post-graduate

courses in any institution should be open to candidates on an

all-India basis and there should be no restriction regarding

domicile in the State/Union Territory in which the institution is

located”. So also in the policy statement filed by the learned

Attorney General, the Government of India has categorically

expressed the view that:

“So far as admission to the institutions of postgraduate

colleges and special professional colleges

is concerned, it should be entirely on the basis of

all-India merit subject to constitutional

reservations in favour of Scheduled Castes and

Scheduled Tribes.”

We are therefore of the view that so far as admissions to

post-graduate courses, such as MS, MD and the like are

concerned, it would be eminently desirable not to provide for

any reservation based on residence requirement within the State

or on institutional preference. But, having regard to broader

considerations of equality of opportunity and institutional

continuity in education which has its own importance and

value, we would direct that though residence requirement

within the State shall not be a ground for reservation in

admissions to post-graduate courses, a certain percentage of

seats may in the present circumstances, be reserved on the basis

of institutional preference in the sense that a student who has

passed MBBS course from a medical college or university, may

be given preference for admission to the post-graduate course in

the same medical college or university but such reservation on

the basis of institutional preference should not in any event

exceed 50 per cent of the total number of open seats available

for admission to the post-graduate course…..”

11

13. In Vishal Goyal (supra) the challenge was to the validity of Clause 2.1

of the Information Bulletin for PGET-2014. The eligibility conditions as

laid down in said Clause 2.1 are identical to those stipulated in the present

clause, namely, Clause 4.1 of PGET-2018. Paragraphs 4, 10 to 13 and 15 of

the decision in Vishal Goyal (supra) were as under:

“4. The said Clause 2.1 of the two Information Bulletins, which

is identically worded for admissions to postgraduate medical

and postgraduate dental courses, is extracted hereinbelow:

“2.1. No candidate shall be admitted to a professional

educational institution unless the candidate possesses the

following qualifications or eligibility to appear for the

entrance test namely:

(a) He is a citizen of India who is of Karnataka

origin and has studied MBBS/BDS degree in a

medical/dental college situated in Karnataka or

outside Karnataka, and affiliated to any university

established by law in India recognised by Medical

Council of India and the Government of India.

Explanation.—‘A candidate of Karnataka Origin’

means a candidate found eligible under clause (i)

or (ii) below, namely:

(i) A candidate who has studied and passed in

one or more government recognised educational

institutions located in the State of Karnataka for a

minimum period of TEN academic years as on the

last date fixed for the submission of application

form, commencing from 1st standard to

MBBS/BDS and must have appeared and passed

either SSLC/10th standard or 2nd PUC/12th

12

standard examination from Karnataka State. In

case of the candidate who has taken more than one

year to pass a class or standard, the years of

academic study is counted as one year only.

Documents to be produced, namely:

(1) SSLC or 10th standard marks card.

(2) 2nd PUC or 12th standard marks card of the

candidate.

(3) Candidates Study Certificate: A study certificate

from the Head of educational institution where he or

she had studied. Further, School Study Certificates

should be countersigned by the Block Education

Officer (BEO)/Deputy Director of Public

Instructions (DDPI) concerned COMPULSORILY

in the proforma prescribed.

(4) Qualifying degree certificate and all phases

marks card.

(5) Domicile certificate issued by the Tahsildar in

the prescribed proforma (Annexure I); and if

claiming reservation benefits: Caste/Caste Income

Certificate issued by Tahsildar concerned, for SC/ST

in Form D, Category 1 in Form E and 2-A, 2-B, 3-A

and 3-B in Form F.

(6) MCI/DCI State Council Registration Certificate.

(7) Attempt Certificate issued by the college

Principal concerned.

(ii) The candidate should have studied and

passed 1st and 2nd years Pre-University

Examination or 11th and 12th standard

examination within the State of Karnataka from an

educational institution run or recognised by the

State Government or MBBS/BDS from a

professional educational institution located in

Karnataka and that either of the parents should

13

have studied in Karnataka for a minimum period of

10 years.

Documents to be produced, namely:

(1) SSLC or 10th standard marks card.

(2) 2nd PUC or 12th standard marks card of the

candidate.

(3) Qualifying degree certificate and all phases

marks card.

(4) Domicile certificate issued by the Tahsildar in

the prescribed proforma (Annexure I).

(5) If claiming reservation benefits: Caste/Caste

Income Certificate issued by Tahsildar concerned,

for SC/ST in Form D, Category 1 in Form E and 2-

A, 2-B, 3-A and 3-B in Form F; and

(6) (a) A study certificate for either of the parent

having studied for at least 10 years in Karnataka

from the Head of the educational institution where

he/she had studied. Further, school study certificates

should be countersigned by the Block Educational

Officer (BEO)/Deputy Director of Public

Instructions (DDPI) concerned COMPULSORILY

in the proforma prescribed (Annexure III).

(b) The candidates study certificate for

having studied both 1st and 2nd PUC or 11th and

12th standard in Karnataka issued by the Head of

the educational institution.

(7) MCI/DCI State Council Registration Certificate.

(8) Attempt Certificate issued by the college Principal

concerned.”

…………

10. We have considered the submissions of the learned counsel

for the parties and we find that the basis of the judgment of this

14

Court in Pradeep Jain case is Article 14 of the Constitution

which guarantees to every person equality before the law and

equal protection of the laws. As explained by this Court in paras

12 and 13 of the judgment in Nikhil Himthani v. State of

Uttarakhand: (SCC pp. 244-45)

“12. Article 14 of the Constitution guarantees to

every person equality before law and equal

protection of laws. In Jagadish Saran v. Union of

India, Krishna Iyer, J., writing the judgment on

behalf of the three Judges referring to Article 14 of

the Constitution held that equality of opportunity

for every person in the country is the constitutional

guarantee and therefore merit must be the test for

selecting candidates, particularly in the higher

levels of education like postgraduate medical

courses, such as MD. In the language of Krishna

Iyer, J.: (SCC pp. 778-79, para 23)

‘23. Flowing from the same stream of equalism is

another limitation. The basic medical needs of a

region or the preferential push justified for a

handicapped group cannot prevail in the same

measure all the highest scales of speciality where

the best skill or talent, must be handpicked by

selecting according to capability. At the level of

PhD, MD, or levels of higher proficiency, where

international measure of talent is made, where

losing one great scientist or technologist in-themaking

is a national loss, the considerations we

have expanded upon a important lose their

potency. Here equality, measured by matching

excellence, has more meaning and cannot be

diluted much without grave risk.’

13. Relying on the aforesaid reasons in Jagadish

Saran v. Union of India, a three-Judge Bench of

this Court in Pradeep Jain case held that

excellence cannot be compromised by any other

15

consideration for the purpose of admission to

postgraduate medical courses such as MD/MS and

the like because that would be detrimental to the

interests of the nation and therefore reservation

based on residential requirement in the State will

affect the right to equality of opportunity under

Article 14 of the Constitution….”

In Magan Mehrotra v. Union of India and Saurabh

Chaudri v. Union of India also, this Court has approved the

aforesaid view in Pradeep Jain case that excellence cannot be

compromised by any other consideration for the purpose of

admission to postgraduate medical courses such as MD/MS and

the like because that would be detrimental to the interests of the

nation and will affect the right to equality of opportunity under

Article 14 of the Constitution.

11. Mr Mariarputham is right that in Saurabh Chaudri v.

Union of India this Court has held that institutional preference

can be given by a State, but in the aforesaid decision of

Saurabh Chaudri, it has also been held that decision of the

State to give institutional preference can be invalidated by the

court in the event it is shown that the decision of the State is

ultra vires the right to equality under Article 14 of the

Constitution. When we examine sub-clause (a) of Clause 2.1 of

the two Information Bulletins, we find that the expression “A

candidate of Karnataka origin” who only is eligible to appear

for entrance test has been so defined as to exclude a candidate

who has studied MBBS or BDS in an institution in the State of

Karnataka but who does not satisfy the other requirements of

sub-clause (a) of Clause 2.1 of the Information Bulletin for

PGET-2014. Thus, the institutional preference sought to be

given by sub-clause (a) of Clause 2.1 of the Information

Bulletin for PGET-2014 is clearly contrary to the judgment of

this Court in Pradeep Jain case.

12. To quote from para 22 of the judgment in Pradeep Jain

case: (SCC p. 693)

16

“22. … a certain percentage of seats may in the

present circumstances, be reserved on the basis of

institutional preference in the sense that a student

who has passed MBBS course from a medical

college or university, may be given preference for

admission to the postgraduate course in the same

medical college or university….”

13. Sub-clause (a) of Clause 2.1 of the two Information

Bulletins does not actually give institutional preference to

students who have passed MBBS or BDS from colleges or

universities in the State of Karnataka, but makes some of them

ineligible to take the entrance test for admission to postgraduate

medical or dental courses in the State of Karnataka to which the

Information Bulletins apply.

…………

15. In the result, we allow the writ petitions, declare sub-clause

(a) of Clause 2.1 of the two Information Bulletins for

postgraduate medical and dental courses for PGET-2014 as

ultra vires Article 14 of the Constitution and null and void. The

respondent will now publish fresh Information Bulletins and do

the admissions to the postgraduate medical and dental courses

in the government colleges as well as the State quota of the

private colleges in accordance with the law by the end of June

2014 on the basis of the results of the entrance test already held.

We also order that the general time schedule for counselling and

admissions to postgraduate medical courses in our order dated

14-3-2014 in Fraz Naseem v. Union of India12 will not apply to

such admissions in the State of Karnataka for the academic year

2014-2015. Similarly, the general time schedule for counselling

and admissions for postgraduate dental courses will not apply to

such admissions in the State of Karnataka. The parties shall

bear their own costs.”

12 (2014) 11 SCC 453

17

14. Paragraphs 13 and 15 of the Judgment of this Court in Vishal Goyal

(supra) are clear that the Information Bulletin for PGET-2014 did not

actually give institutional preference to students who had passed

MBBS/BDS from Colleges or universities in State of Karnataka but made

some of them ineligible to take the entrance test for admission to PostGraduate

Medical or Dental Course in State of Karnataka and that said

clause was held ultra vires Article 14 of the Constitution and declared null

and void. The relevant clause under consideration, namely, Clause 4.1 of the

Information Bulletin for PGET-2018 is identical in substance to the one that

was considered in Vishal Goyal (supra). The matter is thus no longer resintegra

and is completely covered by the decision in Vishal Goyal (supra).

In the circumstances, we respectfully follow the decision of this Court in

Vishal Goyal (supra) and hold Clause 4.1 of the Information Bulletin

(PGET-2018) which was published on the website on 10.03.2018 to be

invalid to the extent it disqualifies petitioners and similarly situated

candidates who completed their MBBS/BDS Degree Courses from colleges

situated in Karnataka from competing for admission to Post-Graduate

Medical/Dental Courses in Government Medical Colleges and against

government quota seats in non-governmental institutions 

18

15. This writ petition stands allowed in the aforesaid terms. State of

Karnataka and Respondent Nos.2 and 3 are directed to suitably modify and

amend the Information Bulletin in question in keeping with the observations

made in this Judgment and re-publish the Calendar of Events in terms of

this Judgment and complete the entire process within the timeline stipulated

by the concerned regulatory authorities.

……..…………….J.

(Arun Mishra)

………….……….J.

(Uday Umesh Lalit)

New Delhi

April 4, 2018