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Mridula Avasthi & Ors Vs. University of Delhi & Ors [1988] INSC 122 (27 April 1988)

Misra Rangnath Misra Rangnath Dutt, M.M. (J)

CITATION: 1988 SCR (3) 762 1988 SCC (2) 572 JT 1988 (2) 220 1988 SCALE (1)813

ACT:

Professional Colleges-Medical Colleges-Post Graduate Medical courses Admission to-Delhi University adopting three year P.G. degree and two year diploma courses from 1988-As a transitory measure old system continued for the 1988 academic session only-Candidates with one year housemanship made ineligible-Common selection list for both seniors and freshers-Validity of-Directions issued.

HEAD NOTE:

Pursuant to the directions of the Supreme Court in Dr. Dinesh Kumar & Ors v. Motilal Nehru Medical College Allahabad, & Ors. [1987] 4 SCC 459 regarding uniformity in post-graduate medical education, respondent No. 1-the University of Delhi, decided to adopt the three years course for the post-graduate degree and a two years course for the diploma commencing from the academic session of 1988.

However, with a view to mitigating hardship to candidates/students who had already completed the house job and had become entitled to undergo the post-graduate course in two years, as a transitory provision, the respondent- University decided to continue the practice prevailing prior to 1988 for a year. It evolved a scheme where under, the number of seats for the post-graduate course and diploma course available in the previous year for a student who had completed one year's house man ship were left untouched. As a transitional provision, the University agreed to fix 75% quota, for the 1988 session only. As per a Note in the scheme, candidates who had done house job/Junior Residency for period of one year were not eligible for admission to 3 years post-graduate degree and 2 years post-graduate diploma course.

The prospectus, however, prescribed one common selection test for both the categories.

A set of writ petitions were filed before the High Court challenging the scheme of the University mainly on the basis that when there was one selection test, merit should prevail and classification in the manner indicated by the scheme was bad. The High Court made an interim 763 order requiring the University to have the selection completed on the basis of merit adjudged in the common selection test.

Disposing of the Writ Petitions and some cases transferred from the High Court, ^

HELD: The seniors who have already done one year's housemanship and freshers belong to two categories and cannot be said to be equal. The question of test of comparative merit would not have arisen if the University had not prescribed a common selection test for these two categories. If the merit list of the selection test is followed, more seniors are entitled to admission and the scheme of reservation would not work. [765F-G] While selection in the higher course should be on the basis of merit in the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case, purely confined to a transitory measure, the situation has to be handled not by first principles but by a somewhat informed pragmatic adhocism especially because the situation would not reoccur. [766D] The impasse created on account of rival claims by freshers and seniors has to have a rough and ready solution- yet not arbitrary and as acceptable and satisfying as possible. [766F] With a view to providing some more seats for seniors, the respondent University should create one seat in every speciality. Thus, 21 additional seats will be available over and above the seats fixed by the University representing 75%. From the reserved seats made for the freshers, 21 seats, being one from every speciality, should be taken away and made available to the seniors. Thus, 42 seats in all will be available for the seniors in the Post-Graduate course to be filled up on the basis of inter se merit, keeping the senior group apart. [766G-H; 767A-B] The Central Government should make the necessary provisions for funds. The Indian Medical Council may provide the necessary accommodation by relaxing the requirements.

[767D] Dr. Dinesh Kumar v. Motilal Nehru College, Allahabad & Ors., [1987] 4 SCC 459, referred to.

CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION: Writ Petition (Civil) NO. 194 of 1988. etc etc.

764 (Under Article 32 of the Constitution of India).

D.D. Thakur, T.S. Krishnamurthi Iyer, Rajesh Mitra, Ms. Santosh Kalra, H.K. Puri, R.L. Roshan, S.S. Sabharwal, S.K. Sabharwal, and M.K.D. Namboodiri for the Petitioners.

P.P. Rao, S.N. Kacker, G. Rath, Mrs. A. Mathur, A. Mariarputham, C.M. Nayyar, D.S. Narula, Kailash Vasudev, Mrs. Uma Jain and P.K. Mehta for the Respondents.

The following Order of the Court was delivered:

O R D E R

The writ application under Article 32 and the transferred writ petitions from the Delhi High Court relate to selection of medical graduates for undertaking post graduate study for the year 1988 under the Delhi University.

In Dr. Dinesh Kumar v. Motilal Nehru College, Allahabad & Ors., this Court emphasised the desirability of post graduate education in the Medical Faculty as far as possible to have uniformity throughout the country. It, therefore, commended to the educational institutions which followed the system of one year house job followed by two years' post- graduate course to switch over to the pattern of a three year post-graduate course with house job in the first year.

On September 25, 1987, in the very same matter, when the Court made an order reported in 1987 4 SCC 459, it was pointed out that in some States the post graduate course is for a term of two years with one year housemanship while in the other States it is a full term of three years. This Court, therefore, directed with a view to bringing about uniformity on the basis of the principle accepted in the earlier decision that for admission beginning from 1993, there would be only one pattern, namely, a three year integrated course without any separate housemanship. The University of Delhi decided to adopt the three year course for the post-graduate degree and a two year course for the diploma commencing from the academic Session of 1988. With a view to mitigating hardship to candidates/students who had already completed the house job and had become entitled to undergo the postgraduate course in two years, as a transitory provision, the University decided to continue the practice prevailing prior to 1988 for a year. The University evolved a scheme where under the number of seats for the post-graduate course and diploma course available in the previous year for a student who had completed one year's housemanship were left untouched. The number of such seats are 198 for the degree course 765 and 111 for the diploma course. Out of these 25% being placed at the disposal of the Government of India to be filled-up on all India selection basis, the exact number available to be filled-up by the University worked out to 149 and 84 respectively. As a transitional provision intended for the 1988 Session only the University agreed to fix 75% quota (representing 139 seats in the three-year degree course and 66 seats in the two-year diploma course).

The following was specified a part of the Scheme:

"Important Note Candidates who have done house job/junior Residency for a period of one year are not eligible for admission to 3 years Post-Graduate Degree and 2 years Post Graduate Diploma Course." The prospectus, however, prescribed one common selection test.

A set of writ petitions were filed before the Delhi High Court challenging the scheme of the University mainly on the basis that when there was one selection test, merit should prevail and classification in the manner indicated by the scheme was bad. Reliance was placed before the High Court on observations of this Court that for post graduate degree the test of excellence should prevail and the level of high proficiency should be maintained. The High Court made an interim order requiring the University to have the selection completed on the basis of merit adjudged in the common selection test.

This is a dispute essentially between the University and the freshers who have not done housemanship on one side and the seniors who have already completed housemanship for one year on the other. There can be no dispute that the seniors and the freshers belong to two separate categories and cannot be said to be equals. If the University had not prescribed a common selection test for these two categories, the question of test of comparative merit would not have arisen. If that had not been done perhaps the High Court would not have made its direction and the difficulty which has arisen would not have cropped up.

The classification of freshers and those who have completed a year's housemanship, though a perceptible one, loses its importance in view of the traditional situation that in the system prevailing prior to 766 1987, both the groups were treated as qualified for appearing at the selection test for post graduate study. We are told by learned members at the Bar that after transitory Note extracted above disappears in the coming year, the old practice shall again revive. This is an unfortunate situation. There being no limit to participation in the selection test for post-graduate study candidates who become unsuccessful year after year, in the absence of any limit, keep on taking chances. This certainly is not a desirable feature and should be looked into by the appropriate authorities quickly.

If the merit list of the selection examination is followed, more of seniors are entitled to admission and the scheme of reservation would not work. As we have already pointed out in the name of what counsel calls convenience (and how inconvenient it was is not known), the Delhi University made an initial mistake of having a common selection test for two categories of candidates. While we reiterate the view expressed by this Court on more than one occasion that selection in the higher courses should be on the basis of merit, in the peculiar facts and circumstances arising in this case purely confined to a transitory measure, the situation has to be handled not by first principles but by a somewhat informed pragmatic adhocism.

This has to be so because the situation would not reoccur.

Again the initial mistake of the Delhi University had brought some amount of confusion and it has mounted up following the intervention by the High Court. The time available is too short as under the Scheme intended to apply to the whole country the course has to begin on the 2nd of May, 1988.

In this background we are of the view that the impasse created on account of the rival claims advanced by the freshers and the seniors has to have a rough and ready solution-yet not arbitrary and as acceptable and satisfying as possible. We find that the two-year degree course speciality-wise has 149 seats while the three-year degree course has 139 seats. For convenience we extract the particulars made available at page 4 of the Bulletine of Information. It may be pointed out that there are 1003 candidates as against total 270 vacancies (degree and diploma courses together) for the seniors; and there are 331 candidates as against 205 vacancies for the two courses for the freshers. With a view to providing some more seats for seniors we suggested to Mr. Rao appearing for the University that the number of seats may be increased and he has on instructions agreed, provided the Union of India provides funds and the Medical Council agrees to accommodate. There are 21 specialities as indicated above. We direct that the University shall create one seat in every speciality and thus 21 additional seats will 767 be available over and above the 149 seats fixed by the University representing the 75% quota. To this enhanced number of seats the 25% reservation of All India Selection shall not apply. From the reserved seats made for the freshers, 21 seats being one from every speciality shall be taken away and made available to the seniors. Thus 42 seats in all will be available for the seniors in the Post- Graduate course to be filled up on the basis of inter se merit keeping the senior group apart.

The creation of the 21 seats will involve additional funds to be provided by the Union of India. It will also require approval of the Medical Council of India and there will perhaps also be necessity for permitting the variation of guide-student ratio. Since it is for one year and there would be no scope for recurrence and this has arisen in peculiar circumstances explained above, we direct the Government of India to take our order made without hearing it with a sense of understanding and make the necessary provisions. We also suggest to the Indian Medical Council to provide the necessary accommodation by relaxing the requirements. These may be done quickly so that the time schedule may not be affected.

N.P.V. Petitions disposed of.

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