SC declines relief to in-service docs for PG courses

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to grant any interim relief to in-service doctors seeking direction to reserve seats for them in postgraduate degree courses by the state governments.

A five-judge bench, presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, declined the request made by Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association and others against the denial of reservation benefits to in-service candidates for admissions to postgraduate degree courses.

Notably, 50% seats in postgraduate diploma courses are reserved for medical officers in the government service but the MCI regulations barred it in postgraduate degree courses.

Justice D Y Chandrachud pronounced the order on behalf of the constitution bench and dismissed the plea for interim relief.

A batch of writ petition by Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association and doctors from Kerala, Maharashtra and Haryana challenged the validity of the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000, framed by the Medical Council of India.

The bench, also consisting of justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar and Ashok Bhushan, had earlier observed that there can't be a merit list other than the central (all India) and the state ones.

All the admission to postgraduate courses are conducted through the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test and 50% seats are filled through all-India quota and the remaining 50% from state quota.

Representing writ petitioners, the counsel had earlier contended that giving reservation benefits would encourage doctors to working in government hospitals and in rural areas.

The MCI and the Centre, however, said states did not have any legislative competence to reserve seats.

"Deserving candidates would be replaced by in-service candidates. It is not permissible. It would lead to lowering of standards," their counsel said.

Both the MCI, as well as the Centre, opposed the passing of any interim order saying the first round of counselling has already been held.

The matter had reached the five-judge bench after a bench of justices Kurian Joseph, Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Navin Sinha favoured the consideration of the matter by a larger bench emergently for passing interim order.

The court had then said it required clarity on the distribution of powers between Centre and states.

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