Chithra Ghosh & ANR Vs. Union of
India & Ors  INSC 123 (25 April 1969)
25/04/1969 GROVER, A.N.
HIDAYATULLAH, M. (CJ) SHELAT, J.M.
BHARGAVA, VISHISHTHA HEGDE, K.S.
CITATION: 1970 AIR 35 1970 SCR (1) 413 1969
SCC (2) 228
R 1971 SC1439 (4,7) R 1971 SC1762
(22,42,48,49) R 1971 SC2560 (13) RF 1972 SC 13 (12) D 1972 SC1375 (35) R 1975
SC 563 (38) R 1979 SC 765 (20) RF 1980 SC1255 (21) RF 1983 SC1235 (5) R 1989 SC
903 (21,22,23) RF 1992 SC 1 (119)
Constitution of India Arts. 14, 15(1) and (2)
and 29(2)Rules of centrally Administered college providing for reservation of
seats for specified categories of studentsPower to Central Government to
nominate students to seats on the basis of classification-If valid.
The appellants passed the pre-medical
examination of the Delhi University in April, 1968 and obtained over 62% marks,
They applied for admission to the first year M.B.B.S. Course at the Maulana
Azad Medical College which is a constituent of the University of Delhi and was
established by the Government of India in 1958. The college prospectus
contained certain rules relating to the admission of students which made
reservations of places in the college in favour of various categories of
students and provided for nominations to be made by the Central Government to
fill some of the reserved places. The appellants' applications for admission to
the college were rejected. Thereafter they filed a writ petition challenging
primarily the power of the Central Government to make the nominations and
contended that nine students nominated by the Government had obtained lower
marks in the pre-medical examination so that if they were to be excluded, the
appellants would be entitled to be admitted in the college. The High Court
dismissed the petition.
It ",as contended on behalf of the
appellants that the provisions in the rules for reservation of seats were not
based on any reasonable classification and were therefore violative of Art. 14
of the Constitution: furthermore, they also violated clauses (1) and (4) of
Art. 15 as well as clause (2) of Art, 29. It was further contended that the
nominations to the reserved seats were also contrary to the rules.
HELD : dismissing the appeal (i) The first
group of persons for whom seats were reserved were the sons and daughters of
residents of Union territories other than Delhi. These areas are well known to
be comparatively backward and with the exception of Himachal Pradesh they do
not have any Medical College of their own.
It was necessary that persons desirous of
receiving medical education from these areas should be provided some facility
for doing so. As regards the sons and daughters of Central Government servants
posted in Indian Missions abroad, it is equally well known that due to
exigencies of service these persons are faced with difficulties in the matter
of education. Apart from the problems of language, it is not easy or always
possible to get admission into institutions imparting medical education in
foreign countries. The reservations for the cultural, Colombo Plan and Thailand
scholars were made by reason of reciprocal arrangements of educational and
cultural nature. The reservations in favour of Jammu and Kashmir scholars were
also justifiable as there were inadequate arrangements for medical education in
the State itself. The classification in all these cases was based on
intelligible differentia which distinguished them from the group to which the
appellants belonged. [418C-F] 414 The object of the classification by the
Central Government who maintained and ran the institution was to select the
best available students from sources as classified in the rules and the
classification therefore had a rational nexus with the object to be achieved.
[419C] Shri Ram Krishna Dalmia v. Shri Justice S. R. Tendolkar & Others
 S.C.R. 279; Minor P. Rajendran v. State of Madras,  2 S.C.R. 786;
Umesh Ch. Sinha v. V. N. Singh, Principal P.M.C. & Hospital and Ors. I.L.R.
46 Patna 616 referred to.
There was no discrimination against the
appellants on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language, sex or place of
birth and therefore there was no violation of Art.
15 or Art. 29.
(ii) The appellants did not have any right to
challenge the nominations made by the Central Government. They did not compete
for the reserved seats and had no locus standi in the matter of nomination of
two such seats. The contention that if nominations to reserved seats were not
in accordance with the rules, such seats must be regarded as not having been
properly filled and must be thrown open to the general pool, was wholly
unfounded. The Central Government was under no obligation to release those
seats to the general pool. Although in the larger interest of giving maximum
benefit to candidates belonging to the non-reserved seats, the Central
Government could and did release some seats, if could not be compelled to do so
at the instance of students who had applied for admission from out of the
categories' for whom seats had not been reserved. [42OC-E]
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 452 of 1969.
Appeal from the judgment and order dated
December 3, 1968 of the Delhi High Court in Civil Writ Petition No. 817 of
B. C. Misra and M. V. Goswami, for the
B. Sen and S. P. Nayar, for respondents Nos.
1, 2 and 4.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Grover, J. This is an appeal by certificate from a judgment of the Delhi High
Court dismissing a petition filed by the appellants under Arts. 226 and 227 of
the Constitution in the matter of there. admission to the Maulana Azad Medical
College, New Delhi, hereinafter called the "Medical College" The
appellants are residents of Delhi. They passed the premedical examination of
the Delhi University held in April 1968 and obtained 62.5% marks. In June 1968
they applied for admission to the first year M.B., B.S. class at the Lady
Harding Medical College, New Delhi but they were not admitted. Thereafter they
applied for admission to the Maulana Azad Medical College. This college, which
is a constituent of the University of Delhi, was established by the Government
of India in June 1958. According to the college prospectus, 125 students are
admitted annually; 15% seats are reserved for schedule caste candidates and 415
5% for scheduled tribes candidates, 25% of the seats (excluding the seats
reserved for Government of India nominees) are reserved for girl students who
are taken on the basis of merit. The following categories of students only are
eligible for admission (a) Residents of Delhi..................
(b) (i) Sons/Daughters of Central Government
Servants posted in Delhi at the time, of the admission.
(ii) Candidate whose father is dead and is
wholly dependent on brother/sister who is a Central Government Servant posted in
Delhi at the time of the admission.
(c) Sons/Daughters of residents of Union
Territories specified below including displaced persons registered therein and
sponsored by their respective Administration of Territory :(i) Himachal Pradesh
(ii) Tripura (iii) Manipur (iv) Naga Hills (v) N.E.F.A. (vi) Andaman.
(d) Sons/Daughters of Central Government
servants posted in Indian Missions abroad.
(e) Cultural Scholars.
(f) Colombo Plan Scholars.
(g) Thailand Scholars.
(h) Jammu & Kashmir State Scholars.
According to the note 23 seats are reserved
for categories (c) to (h) above. The minimum percentage of marks which a
candidate seeking admission must have obtained in the aggregate of compulsory
subjects is 55.
Now the appellants had obtained 62.5% marks and
were domiciled in Delhi. According to them they were entitled to admission and
would have been admitted but for the reservation of the seats which were filled
by nominations by the Central Government. In the year 1968 when the appellants
sought admission 9 students had been nominated by the Central Government out of
the 23 seats which had 'been reserved for categories (c) to (h) mentioned
above. These students had obtained less percentage of marks than the
appellants. The appellants filed a writ petition in the High Court challenging
primarily the power of the Central Government to make the nominations. It was
prayed that these nominations be struck down and the respondents (Union of
India, Medical College, University of Delhi etc.) be directed to admit the
-appellants and all other students who were eligible strictly in 416 the order
of merit. The writ petition was disposed of by a division bench of the High
Court. The authority of the Central Government to select candidates for the
reserved seats was upheld. It was, however, found that among the nine seats
filled in the Medical College by the Government, two nominations had been made
contrary to the admission rules. The High Court was of the view that these two
seats would also become a part of the general pool for admission of candidates
on merit. The order was, therefore, made in the -following terms :
"We, therefore, direct the respondents 1
to 4 as follows :
two seats shall be filled immediately for
admission to the first year M.B., B.S. Course of the College from the merit
list in which petitioner No. 1 is number 4 and petitioner No. 2 is number 9.
The respondents 1 to 4 shall immediately enquire from the candidates who are
above the petitioners in order of merit whether they want the admissions and on
their failure to reply in a short time or on their refusal to accept the offer,
the admission shall be made either of the petitioners or of other candidates
who are above them in the merit list within one week from today." In
December 1968, the appellants filed a petition under s.
114 and 0. 47, R. 1 read with s. 141, Civil
Procedure Code seeking a review of the judgment and order dated December 3,
1968. This petition was dismissed by the High Court by a detailed order dated
January 27, 1969. On February 1, 1969, a petition was filed under Arts. 133 (1)
(c) and 132(1) of the Constitution for leave to appeal to this Court. In the
prayer leave was sought against the judgment dismissing the writ petition -as
also the order by which the review petition was disposed of. In the
certificate, however, in the heading only the judgment dated December 3, 1968
is mentioned. It would appear that the certificate was limited to the appeal
against the writ petition. This would be so because under 0. 47, R. 7 the order
of the court rejecting the application for review is not appealable. If the
appellants desired to challenge that order it could have been done only by
-asking for leave of this Court under Art.
136 which was never done. In these
circumstances the arguments of Mr. B. C. Misra for the appellants were
confirmed to the matters decided by the judgment dated December 3, 1968.
It is common ground that the University of
Delhi is a statutory body incorporated by the Delhi University Act of 1922 as
amended from time to time. Under S. 30 of that Act Ordinances can be made
providing for various matters which include the admission of students to the
University and their enrolment as such. Ordinance 11 provides that there shall
be a Medical Courses Admission 417 Committee. It -is this committee which
finalises the cases of admission except those which are to be referred to the
Standing Committee on -account of any special features. The Medical Courses
Admission Committee at its meeting held on November 5, 1965, recognised that 23
seats in the Medical College shall be reserved for certain categories for
nomination. This reservation was approved by the Standing Committee of the
Academic Council of the Delhi University and finally by the Academic Council
itself by means of a resolution dated March 3, 1966. In the High Court and
before us both sides argued on the footing that the rules set out in the
prospectus of the Medical College relating to admission have statutory sanction
and are not of a purely administrative nature.
Before the High Court only two questions were
raised. The first was whether the provision for reservation of seats was
unconstitutional. The second was whether the nominations to the reserved seats
had been made contrary to the rules. Mr. Misra has amplified the first
submission-by urging that the reservation of seats for admission to the Medical
College was not based on any reasonable classification and suffered from the
vice of discrimination. According to him such reservation was hit by Art. 14
read with clauses (1) and (4) of Art. 15 and clause (2) of Art.29 of the
In addition the system of nominations being
made by the Government and not by the Admission Committee was per se
Article 29(2) may be read first. It says, no
citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained
by the State-or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion,
race, caste, language or any of them. Under clause (1) of Art. 15 the State
cannot discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, caste,
sex, place of birth or any of them. Clause (4), however, provides that nothing
in the Article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for
the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens
or for the scheduled castes and tribes.
According to Mr. Misra the categories (c) to
(h) contained in Rule 4 relating to eligibility for admission for whom seats
are reserved do not fall within the exception contained in cl. 4 of Art. 15.
The persons in these categories, it is said, cannot be regarded -as socially
and educationally backward classes of citizens nor can it be supposed that all
of them must belong to schedule castes and tribes.
We are unable to see how Art. 15(1) can be
invoked in the present case. The rules do not discriminate between any citizen
on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
Nor is Art 29(2) of any assistance to the appellants. They are not being denied
admission into the Medical College on 418 grounds only of religion, race,
caste, language or any of them. This brings us to Art. 14. It is claimed that
merit should be the sole criterion and as soon as other factors like those
mentioned in clauses (c) to (h) of Rule 4 are introduced, discrimination
As laid down in Shri Ram Krishna Dalmia v.
Shri Justice S. R. Tendolkar & Others(1), Art. 14 forbids class legislation
it does not forbid reasonable classification. In order to pass the test of
permissible classification two conditions must be fulfilled, (i) that the
classification is founded on intelligible differentia which distinguishes
persons or things that are grouped together from others left out of the group
and, (ii) that that differentia must have a rational relation to the object
sought to be achieved. The .first group of persons for whom seats have been
reserved are the sons and daughters of residents of Union territories other
than Delhi. These areas are well known to be comparatively backward and with
the exception of Himachal Pradesh they do not have any Medical College of their
own. It was necessary that persons desirous of receiving medical education from
these areas should be provided some facility for doing so.
As regards the sons and daughters of Central
Government servants posted in Indian Missions abroad it is equally well known
that due to exigencies of their service these persons are faced with lot of
difficulties in the matter of education. Apart from the problems of language, it
is not easy or always possible to get admission into institutions imparting
medical education in foreign countries. The cultural, Colombo Plan and Thailand
scholars are given admission in medical institutions in this country by reason
of reciprocal arrangements of educational and cultural nature. Regarding Jammu
& Kashmir scholars it must be remembered that the problems relating to them
are of a peculiar nature and there do not exist adequate arrangements for
medical education in the State itself for its residents.
The classification in all these cases is
based on intelligible differentia which distinguishes them from the group to
which the appellants belong.
It is the Central Government which bears the
financial burden of running the medical college. It is for it to lay down the
criteria for eligibility. From the very nature of things it is not possible to
throw the admission open to students from all over the country. The Government
cannot be denied the right to decide from what sources the -admission will be
made. That essentially is a question of policy and depends inter-alia on an
overall assessment and survey of the requirements of residents of particular
territories and other categories of Persons for whom it is essential to provide
facilities for medical education. , If the sources are properly (1) 
419 classified whether on territorial,
geographical or other reasonable basis it is not for the courts to interfere
with the manner and method of making the classification.
The next question that has to be determined
is whether the differentia on which classification has been made has rational
relation with the object to be -achieved. The main purpose of admission to a
medical college is to impart education in' the theory and practice of medicine.
As noticed before the sources from which students have to be drawn are
primarilydetermined by the authorities who maintain and run the institution,
e.g, the Central Government in the present case. In Minor P. Rajendran v. State
of Madras(1) it has been stated that the object of selection for admission is
to secure the best possible material. This can surely be achieved by making
proper rules in the matter of selection but there can be no doubt that such
selection has to be confined to, the sources that are intended to supply the
material. If the sources have been classified in the manner done in the present
case it is difficult to see how that classification has no rational nexus with
the object of imparting medical education and also of selection, for the
The case of Minor P. Rajendran(1) is clearly
distinguishable, because there the classification had been made district-wise
which was considered to have no reasonable relation with the object sought to
Nor can the decision of a full bench of'the
Patna High Court in Umesh Ch. Sinha v. V. N. Singh, Principal, P.M.C. &
Hospital & Ors. (2) be of any avail to the appellants. In that case
preferential treatment had been given to the children.. of the employees of the
Patna University in the matter of admission to the Patna Medical College. It
was held that there was no,, reasonable nexus between the principle governing
-admission to the college on the one hand and the pecuniary difficulties or the
meritorious services rendered by the employees of the University on,, the other
and that preferential treatment to the children of these employees would amount
to favoritism and patronage.
There,. is no question of any preferential
treatment being accorded to any particular category or class of persons
desirous of -receiving medical education in the present case. The mete fact
that the Central Government has to make the nominations with regard to the
reserved seats cannot be considered to be preferential treatment of any kind.
As the candidates for the reserved seats have to be drawn from different
sources it would be difficult to have uniformity in the matter of selection
from amongst them. The High Court was right in saying that the standards of the
examinations passed by them, the subjects studied by them and the educational
back-(1)  2 S.C.R. 786.
(2) I.L.R. 46 Patna. 616' 420 ground of each
of them would be different and divergent and therefore the Central Government
was the appropriate authority which could make a proper selection out of those
categories. Moreover this is being done with the tacit approval and consent of
the Medical Courses Admission Committee. -It appears that the Central
Government has been acting in a very reasonable way inasmuch as when
nominations were made only to nine seats the rest were thrown open to the
The other question which was canvassed before
the High Court and which has been pressed before us relates to the merits of
the nominations made to the reserved seats. It seems to us that the appellants
do not have -any right to challenge the nominations made by the Central
Government. They do not compete for the reserved seats and have no locus standi
in the matter of nomination to such seats. The assumption that if nominations
to reserved seats are not in accordance with the rules all such seats as have
not been properly filled up would be thrown open to the general pool is wholly
unfounded. The Central Government is under no obligation to release those seats
to the general pool. It may in the larger interest of giving maximum benefit to
candidates belonging to the non-reserved seats release them but it cannot be
compelled to do so -at the instance of students who have applied for admission
from out of the categories for whom seats have not been reserved. In our
opinion the High Court was in error in going into the question and holding that
out of the nine seats filled by nomination two had been filled contrary to the
admission rules and these would be converted into the general pool. Since no
appeal has been filed against that part of the order we refrain from making any
further observations in the matter.
Finally Mr. Misra attempted to agitate the
question of some of the nominations being illegal as the candidates who had
been nominated had not applied in time-the prescribed date being August 1,
1968. This contention cannot be entertained for two reasons. The first is that
no such point appears to have been raised before the High Court when the writ
petition was disposed of on December 3, 1968. It is only at the stage of review
that this matter seems to have been pressed. Secondly it has been held by us
that the appellants had no right to challenge the nominations which had been
made by the Central Government. It was not; therefore, open to them to assail
any of the nominations which had been made.
The appeal fails and it is dismissed with no
order as to costs.
R.K.P.S. Appeal dismissed.