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Fate of 180 students who got admissions in violation of guidelines uncertain as SC terms ordinance signed by Governor & ex-CJI P Sathasivam as unconstitutional

The Supreme Court, on Wednesday (September 12), quashed a Kerala government ordinance that was issued to ensure that 180 students who were admitted in violation of guidelines could pursue their studies at the Kannur Medical College and Karuna Medical college in the southern state’s Palakkad district.

The LDF government of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier passed the Kerala Professional Colleges (regularization of admission in medical colleges) Bill 2018 to regularize the admissions to the self financing medical colleges in 2016—17. The ordinance was promulgated by Governor and former Chief Justice of India, Justice P Sathasivam.

The apex court has now held that the ordinance was in violation of judicial authority. The bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee has dubbed the ordinance as “unconstitutional”.

On March 22 last year, the SC had cancelled the admission of 180 students in these two colleges citing irregularities in the admission procedure. The Kerala government then promulgated the ordinance to regularize the admissions. The Kerala assembly had subsequently passed the ordinance as a bill in April this year.

In an earlier order, the SC had said that ordinance blatantly seeks to nullify the binding effect of the order passed by this court. “Prima facie it was not open to declare this court’s order as void or ineffective as was sought to be done by way of ordinance,” the Supreme Court had then said. “We therefore, stay the operation of the ordinance and make it clear that no student shall be permitted to reap any benefit of any action taken and they shall not be permitted to attend the college or the classes in any manner pursuant to ordinance,” the Supreme Court had ordered.

Challenging the ordinance, the Medical Council of India approached the Supreme Court. The MCI argued that that the ordinance negates the principle of equality and equal protection of laws in as much as there would be no difference in illegal admissions made by the two colleges and other admissions made in accordance with law. The Council submitted that regularising illegal medical admissions, if allowed, would have severe repercussions as private medical colleges would get impetus to admit students without following proper procedure. The medical body, seeking an immediate stay of the ordinance, said that “the Legislature in exercise of its legislative powers cannot strike down any judgment /decision passed by the constitutional courts”.

Agreeing, the Supreme Court said it was not prima facie open for the State to “sit over the judgment and validate those very admissions and to venture into regularising them”.

— India Legal Bureau

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