A Supreme Court Bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice CT Ravikumar heard an appeal against a judgment of the High Court of Calcutta which directed the West Bengal University of Health Sciences to admit the Respondent-candidates, even after the cut-off date.

The Apex Court observed that "even when the complaints are made to this Court that large number of seats are lying vacant seeking extension of time to fill those unfilled undergraduate/post­graduate seats of medical courses, this Court always declined such requests and directed that schedule must be strictly adhered to."

Setting aside the impugned judgment, the Supreme Court said that "In our considered view, no sympathy can be shown to such students who have not only entered/admitted after 31st May of the year but their admissions were completely in contravention to the Regulations, 2000 and provisional admissions were granted by the High Court ignoring the principle of merit which is the sole touchstone for admission to the post­graduate courses based on the NEET examination, 2019 where admissions are made strictly in the order of merit­cum­preference and despite the stay order passed by this Court, if they are allowed to continue in post­graduate medical courses, the same would be completely illegal and such contemptuous action on the part of the authorities, cannot be approved by this Court."

Counsel Gaurav Sharma appeared on behalf of the National Medical Commission.

In this case, the National Medical Commission filed an appeal against the judgment passed by the High Court of Calcutta, by which the High Court had granted provisional admission to student-applicants in post­graduate medical courses beyond the cut­off date, and then later regularized the admissions, while passing directions that they were to be treated like regular post-graduate students.

Undisputedly, the Respondent-students were MBBS Doctors who appeared in NEET (PG)-2019 entrance examination, seeking admission in State quota seats in post-graduate medical courses in the medical colleges of West Bengal.

The Supreme Court perused the record and found that after the admission/counselling process, approximately 153 seats had remained vacant in the State Quota, and that the Respondent-students had failed in their attempt after participating in the last counselling, as their rank was very low in the order of merit.

The Court referred to the Medical Council of India Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000, and observed that the time scheduled prescribed by the Medical Council of India has to be strictly followed and cannot be deviated from under any circumstances. The Court relied on the judgment passed in a catena of cases including Mridul Dhar (Minor) and Another vs. Union of India and Others and Ashish Ranjan and Others vs. Union of India and Others.

In similar context, the Court held that even when a large number of seats are lying vacant, any plea seeking extension of time to fill those unfilled seats must be declined, and directed that the schedule must be strictly adhered to.

Therefore, the Apex Court observed that since the admissions made after the cut-off date were completely in contravention to the Regulations, 2000, they could not be approved by the Court. In furtherance of the same, the Supreme Court held that the High Court had completely ignored the principle of merit, and its order deserved to be set aside.

Consequently, the appeals succeeded and the orders passed by the High Court were quashed. No orders were passed as to costs.

Cause Title: Board Of Governors In Supersession Of Medical Council Of India v. Priyambada Sharma

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