SC to rule on quota for docs in PG degree courses

A five-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra reserved the order after hearing arguments against the denial of reservation benefits to in-service candidates desirous of pursuing PG degree courses. DH file photo.

The Supreme Court will soon pass an interim order on whether in-service doctors can be granted the benefit of reservation of seats in post-graduate degree courses by the state governments.

A five-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra reserved the order after hearing arguments against the denial of reservation benefits to in-service candidates desirous of pursuing PG degree courses.

Notably, 50% seats in PG diploma courses are reserved for medical officers in government service but the Medical Council of India (MCI) regulations bar quota in PG degree courses.

The Constitution bench hearing the Aadhaar case acknowledged the importance of the matter and heard senior advocates Arvind Datar, K V Viswanathan, R Venkataramani, V Giri and others for passing an interim order. 

Regulation challenged

A batch of writ petitions 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 MCI.

The bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, orally observed that there cannot be a merit list other than the central (all-India) and the state lists.

All admissions to PG degree courses are through the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), under which 50% seats are filled through all-India quota and the remaining 50% from state quota.

For and against 

The counsel for writ petitioners contended giving reservation benefits would encourage doctors to work in government hospitals and rural areas.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing the MCI and Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, and A K Sinha, appearing for the Centre, said states have no 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,” Singh said.

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

The matter reached the five-judge bench after a bench of Justices Kurian Joseph, Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Navin Sinha last week favoured consideration by a larger bench for passing an emergent interim order. The court had then said it required clarity on the distribution of powers between Centre and states.

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