NEW DELHI, Aug 20 - Upholding the Assam Government�s stand, the Supreme Court on Friday ruled that it is permissible for States to lay down �essential educational requirements� as regards domicile and residence for admission under State quota to medical, dental and ayurvedic courses.
A Supreme Court Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S Abdul Nazeer while noting that the rationale behind imposing such requirements for admission to medical colleges under State quota in Assam was, in fact, to emancipate the educational standards of the State. The Court upheld the reservation for Assam domiciled candidates to MBBS, BDS and Ayurveda courses.
A distinction, however, was made in this regard over the question of admission to postgraduate and post-doctoral superspecialty courses by the Bench.
The Supreme Court judgement came in response to a bunch of writ petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Rule 13 of the medical colleges and dental colleges of Assam (Regulations of Admission into 1st-year MBBS/BDS Courses) Rules, which lays down the conditions to be fulfilled by students to avail the State quota in medical and dental colleges in Assam.
The eligibility criteria included that the candidate must be an Indian citizen, the candidate must be a permanent citizen of Assam or the father or mother of the candidate must have resided in Assam for a continuous period of 20 years, and third, the candidate must have completed his or her education from Class-VII to XII in Assam.
The third condition was challenged by the petitioners contending that some of them were rendered ineligible to avail State quota merely because they did not pass their Class-XII exam from Assam despite having studied in Assam for a sufficient period of time prior to that.
Terming it discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, the petitioners said that the rule is irrational, unreasonable and arbitrary.
The petitioners also argued that a bond is obtained from students who complete their MBBS from a college in Assam. The bond requires them to serve in the State for a period of five years or render one-year rural service. In case of breach of this bond, a sum of Rs 30 lakh is to be paid as compensation.
The Counsel for Assam Government, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh and AAG Nalin Kohli, submitted that these provisions and requirements were essential to ensure that bonafide candidates from Assam who would serve in the State get to avail the benefit of State quota.
Having regard to the level of backwardness, inadequate development, lack of adequate number of doctors to provide services all over the State of Assam, including in remote areas, it was considered to be quintessential to ensure that admissions in MBBS courses in the Government medical colleges do become available to bonafide candidates of Assam belonging to the State.
The provision under Rule 3(1) (c) was, in fact, also challenged before the Gauhati High Court, which held that the State can lay down any reasonable eligibility criteria of domicile for admission under the State quota seats for medical courses in the State of Assam.
We find that the writ petitions are devoid of substance. Rule 3(1) (c) of the Rules of 2017 is in consonance with the spirit of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The writ petitions deserve dismissal and the same are hereby dismissed, ruled the Supreme Court.