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Supreme Court dismisses plea of in-service candidates for availing unfilled quota seats

The Supreme Court dismissed the plea of in-service candidates doctors who had urged the Apex Court that they have a separate source of entry and unfilled seats of reserved category in-service compartment cannot be shifted to open/direct category unless the requirement of Rule 4 and 14 (2) of the admission rules is satisfied.

For Dr Amit Anand Kumar Jain and Yogendra Singh Thakur, it was pleaded that before the High Court, the State government gave an undertaking that they will not conduct mop-up round.

The bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Surya Kant passed the order.

Justice Chandrachud said,

“Mop-up round must have been completed. Mr. Counsel, allotments are made, seats are allotted. Students are not a party in this case, they would have all taken admissions now.”

Justice Khanna: “Accordingly, Rules can also be postulated and in this case, High Court came to conclusion that in case of non-fulfilment, it has to be worked out in that way. High Court has taken a view on interpretation of rule.”

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The Jabalpur bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court had dismissed the writ petition held in para 28 of its judgment that the Rule 2(त),Rule 4 (1) and Rule 14(1) and (2) makes it clear that intention behind bringing these provisions into statute book was to apply category-wise reservation in the second round of counselling on entire vacancies and not separately for ‘in-service category’ and ‘open category’. Thus, no fault can be found in the action of respondents in applying Rules to the entire set of vacancies.

The doctors relied on the judgment of Supreme Court in the case of Zila Sahkari Kendriya Bank and in the said judgment it was held that special provision will prevail over a general provision.

The writ petition was filed in the Madhya Pradesh High Court against Commissioner, Department of Medical Education and Commissioner, Department of Health, Bhopal praying that seats falling under 30% reserved compartment earmarked for ‘in-service candidates’ the unfilled seats of SC/ST/OBC/EWS category cannot be converted/shifted to the pool of open/direct category till they are first offered to general/unreserved category candidates within the same pool/compartment of ‘in-service candidates’ by exhausting the list in view of combined reading of Rule 4 and Rule 14 of the Admission Rules.

The process of admission in the post-graduate courses are governed by statutory rules namely Madhya Pradesh Chikitsa Shiksha Pravesh Niyam, 2018 (Admission Rules) made under Madhya Pradesh Niji Vyavsayik (Prevesh Ka Viniyaman Evam Shulk Ka Nirdharan) Adhiniyam, 2007 (Adhiniyam).

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The contentions of doctors were that they fall in the general category candidates and if reserved category posts in their pool/compartment are not filled up, same should go to petitioners in the same compartment. If unfilled seats of same pool are not transferred to open/direct category, the petitioners of these petitions may also get seats of their entitlement.

The three-fold submissions of the doctors were that in-service candidates have separate source of entry, so intermingling seats between two compartments are impossible.

Action taken by Commissioner, Department of Medical Education and Commissioner Department of Health, Bhopal in shifting seats of one compartment to another is bad in law.
Admission Rules must be given purposive interpretation.

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On March 4, 2022 at around 7-8 pm, seats were allotted in the second round and 5th and 6th of March 2022 were non -working days. During the course of hearing, petitioner placed reliance on the definition of ‘Pravarg ‘and ‘Shreni’. Rule 4 of Admission Rules provides the methodology for filling posts category wise. Heavy reliance is placed on Rule 4 and 14 to submit that under the Rules, the respondents are under an obligation to fill up the seats in the manner prescribed in Rule 4 (1) (d). Rules were amended twice. Firstly, on 19th June 2019 and thereafter on 5th October 2021. The amended Rule 14(1) employed the word ‘izksRlkgu’ (encouragement) for in-service candidate. As per Rule 14 (1), 30 percent posts are reserved for in-service candidates in degree/PG courses.

The stand of government was that 436 seats were available under the State quota before the first round of counselling. Of these, 30% seats were provided to in-service candidates which comes to 131 and remaining 305 seats were kept for open/direct quota seats (non in-service candidates).

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