2013(6) ALL MR 879
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY(AURANGABAD BENCH)
B.P. DHARMADHIKARI AND R.V. GHUGE, JJ.
Shubham S/O. Lakshman Gaddalay Vs. The State Of Maharashtra & Ors.
Writ Petition No. 5717 of 2013
13th September, 2013
Petitioner Counsel: Mr. S.B. Talekar,Mr. M.S. Nilwant
Respondent Counsel: Mr. S.V. Kurundkar,Mr. K.C. Sant
NEET-PGM Rules (2013), R.4 - State quota - MBBS admissions - Requirement that student must be domicile of Maharashtra - Also student is eligible if passed SSC and HSC examination from Maharashtra - State Government has imposed twin requirement - No hostile discrimination is pointed out by petitioner - Requirement is not arbitrary - Mother of petitioner is State Government employee - However petitioner has passed his SSC, HSC from Andhra Pradesh - Petitioner claiming State quota in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra - Petitioner cannot claim admissions from 3 States simultaneously - Rejection to admission from Maharashtra State quota cannot be interfered with.
AIR 1955 SC 334, AIR 1971 SC 1439, 1971 (1) SCC 607, 1980 (2) SCC 768, AIR 1984 SC 1420(1), AIR 1986 SC 1362(1), 1968 (3) SCC 727, 1999 (7) SCC 120, AIR 2000 SC 114, AIR 2004 SC 361, 2012 ALL SCR 2001, 1997 (2) SCC 171, 1989 (1) SCC 93 Ref. to. [Para 24,26]
D.P. Joshi Vs. State of Madhya Bharat and another, AIR 1955 SC 334 [Para 9,19]
Kumari N. Vasundara Vs. The State of Mysore & another, AIR 1971 SC 1439 [Para 9,20]
State of Andhra Pradesh & another Vs. Lavu Narendranath & others, 1971(1) SCC 607 [Para 9]
Dr. Jagadish Saran & others Vs. Union of India, (1980) 2 SCC 768 [Para 9,19]
Dr. Pradeep Jain etc. etc. Vs. Union of India & others, AIR 1984 SC 1420(1) [Para 9,17,19,20]
Nidamarti Maheshkumar Vs. State of Maharashtra & others, AIR 1986 SC 1362(1) [Para 9]
Dr. Dinesh Kumar & others Vs. Motilal Nehru Medical College, Allahabad and others, (1986) 3 SCC 727 [Para 9,19]
Dr. Preeti Srivastava & another Vs. State of M.P. & others, (1999) 7 SCC 120 [Para 9,11,17]
Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation & another Vs. Nilaybhai R. Thakore & another, AIR 2000 SC 114 [Para 9,10,18,20]
Saurabh Chaudri & others Vs. Union of India & others, AIR 2004 SC 361 [Para 9,17,20]
Asha Vs. Pt. B.D. Sharma University of Health Sciences & others, 2012 ALL SCR 2001 : (2012) 7 SCC 389 [Para 9]
Mohan Bir Singh Chawla Vs. Panjab University, Chandigarh & another, (1997) 2 SCC 171 [Para 9,19]
State of Rajasthan & another Vs. Dr. Ashok Kumar Gupta & others, (1989) 1 SCC 93 [Para 9,10,18]
Anant Madaan Vs. State of Haryana, (1995) 2 SCC 135 [Para 19]
B.P. Dharmadhikari, J. :- Heard Adv. Mr. S.B. Talekar, with Adv. Mr. M.S. Nilwant for the petitioner; learned GP Mr. S.V. Kurundkar for respondent nos.1, 2 and 4; and Adv. Mr. K.C. Sant for respondent no.3.
3. By this petition, filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the petitioner/student, a minor, through his mother, has approached this Court challenging denial of respondent nos.1 and 2, to consider his eligibility for admission to M.B.B.S. course in State quota. The said denial is based upon provisions of Rules 4.4, 4.5 and 18.104.22.168 of the NEET-UG-2013 Rules and hence, there is a prayer for declaring the same as ultra virus Articles 14, 15, 21 and 29(2) of the Constitution of India. Submission, in brief is, the domicile of the petitioner in the State of Maharashtra and accordingly his merit in the National Entrance Test needed to be considered and given due weight-age. Mere fact, that he has passed S.S.C. and H.S.C. examinations from Andhra Pradesh, cannot disentitle him from seeking admission in State quota.
4. The mother of the petitioner, Dr. Sunanda w/o. Lakshman Gaddalay, is presently serving as a Professor in Conservative Dentistry, MIDSR Dental College at Latur. The petitioner has annexed with petition, a document which shows that he is domiciled in the State of Maharashtra. Similar documents pertaining to his mother are also placed on record.
5. The petitioner has passed 12th Science examination from Board of Intermediate Education, Andhra Pradesh, at Hyderabad. His name, as far as M.B.B.S. admissions are concerned, was shown at Serial No. 33898 at all India level, at Serial No. 2204 in State quota for State of Andhra Pradesh, at Serial No. 4352 for State of Karnataka, and at Serial No. 2876 for State of Maharashtra. Little later, the petitioner has also stated that the candidates at Serial Nos.1301 to 1900, in provisional State merit list ie for Maharashtra, were to submit preference forms on 3rd July 2013. He could not personally attend the regional centre and fill in preference form. He, therefore, sent his cousin sister with request to permit him to submit preference / scrutiny form on 7-7-2013. His request was granted and accordingly, he appeared before Council authority on 7-7-2013 and submitted said form. On 10th July 2013, on official website, he found that his claim was rejected on the ground that he had not passed S.S.C., as also, H.S.C. examinations from an institute in the State of Maharashtra. The notification dated 10-7-2013 on official website is produced as Annexure "M" where provisional State Merit List of petitioner has been shown as 1535. He is found not eligible. Candidate below him at Serial No. 1536 shown as SC-52 is found eligible. It is the case of the petitioner, that the students who have secured less marks and stood below him have been cleared and given admission.
7. While opening the arguments, Adv. Mr. Talekar stated that the challenge to these Rules has been rejected by Division Bench of this Court on 17th July 2013, while deciding Writ Petition No. 5606 of 2013. One of us (Justice Ravindra V. Ghuge) is party to that judgment. Learned Counsel stated that his effort will be to show that two judgments of Hon'ble Apex Court, having bearing on the controversy, were not pointed out to that Division Bench. The precedents looked into were also not properly pressed into service and hence, correct ratio thereof could not be appreciated.
8. He contends that norm requiring a student to pass S.S.C. or equivalent examination, as also, 12th standard or equivalent examination from school or institute within State of Maharashtra is prejudicial to the interest of students in Maharashtra. He submits that this artificial requirement results in denial of admission to meritorious candidates. Thus, student domiciled in the State of Maharashtra and having more merit is excluded which results in violation of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India. Primacy must be given to merit and when a candidate is shown to be a resident and domiciled in the State of Maharashtra, provisions of Articles 14, 15, 21 and 29(2) cannot be allowed to be breached by importing such artificial requirement.
(1) D.P. Joshi Vs. State of Madhya Bharat and another [AIR 1955 SC 334].
(2) Kumari N. Vasundara Vs. The State of Mysore & another [AIR 1971 SC 1439].
(3) State of Andhra Pradesh & another Vs. Lavu Narendranath & others, etc. [1971(1) SCC 607].
(4) Dr. Jagadish Saran & others Vs. Union of India [(1980) 2 SCC 768].
(5) Dr. Pradeep Jain etc. etc. Vs. Union of India & others [AIR 1984 SC 1420(1)].
(6) Nidamarti Maheshkumar Vs. State of Maharashtra & others [AIR 1986 SC 1362(1)]
(7) Dr. Dinesh Kumar & others Vs. Motilal Nehru Medical College, Allahabad and others [(1986) 3 SCC 727].
(8) Dr. Preeti Srivastava & another Vs. State of M.P. & others [(1999) 7 SCC 120].
(9) Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation & another Vs. Nilaybhai R. Thakore & another [AIR 2000 SC 114].
(10) Saurabh Chaudri & others Vs. Union of India & others [AIR 2004 SC 361].
(11) Asha Vs. Pt. B.D. Sharma University of Health Sciences & others [(2012) 7 SCC 389] : [2012 ALL SCR 2001].
(12) Mohan Bir Singh Chawla Vs. Panjab University, Chandigarh & another [(1997) 2 SCC 171].
(13) State of Rajasthan & another Vs. Dr. Ashok Kumar Gupta & others [(1989) 1 SCC 93].
10. Adv. Mr. Talekar also points out that the judgment in the case of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation & another Vs. Nilaybhai R. Thakore & another (supra), and in the case of State of Rajasthan & another Vs. Dr. Ashok Kumar Gupta & others (supra), were not pointed out to this Court when it decided Writ Petition No. 5606 of 2013.
11. Learned GP Mr. Kurundkar has submitted that the controversy stands squarely covered by judgment dated 17th July 2013 in Writ Petition No. 5606 of 2013. He has also invited our attention to judgment dated 15th July 2013, delivered at Bombay in Writ Petition No. 6065 of 2013. According to him, this judgment dated 15th July 2013, is also sufficient to negate present challenge. He contends, that the Rules for admission followed vide NEET-UG-2013 are in force since long and after placing 15% of the available seats for filling in at all India level, remaining 85 % of the seats are left with State Government to be filled in by it in accordance with its Rules and Regulations. The State Government is having powers to add proper conditions and terms for regulating such admissions. He seeks support from judgment of Hon'ble Apex Court, in the case of Dr. Preeti Srivastava & another Vs. State of M.P. & others (supra). According to him, insistence on domicile within State of Maharashtra is misconceived as Rules give primacy to residence. He contends, that Rules do not give any preference to students otherwise domiciled in State of Maharashtra, if they have not passed 10th Standard and 12th Standard examinations through schools / institutions located in the State of Maharashtra. According to him, there is only one domicile recognized in India and hence, respondent no.1 has framed Rules which recognize residence. He submits, that this has not been shown to be either arbitrary or then violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Majority of students residing in Maharashtra normally clear their 10th Standard and 12th Standard examination from Maharashtra only. He, therefore, prays for dismissal of Writ Petition.
12. In reply arguments, Adv. Mr. Talekar submits that issue has croppd up only because of conduct of a single common test for such entrance by CBSE for all aspirants at national level. He, therefore, submitted that the petitioner cannot be and is not expected to compete in 15% all India quota.
13. We have considered the challenged as posed & in the light of arguments advanced. However, we also note that precise question required to be urged was, whether this Court can issue directions to provide the quota if it finds denial of eligibility to a student like Petitioner domiciled in Maharashtra in State Quota, renders the NEET-UG-2013 Rules violative of either Articles 14 or 15 or 21 or 29(2) of the Constitution of India.
14. Before proceeding further to consider the arguments advanced, we will like to note the view of this Court in its judgment dated 15th July 2013, in Writ Petition No. 6065 of 2013, and judgment dated 17th July 2013, in Writ Petition No. 5606 of 2013. The judgment dated 15th July 2013 is delivered at principal seat and was not pointed out to Division Bench here at Aurangabad.
15. In Writ Petition No. 6065 of 2013, filed at Bombay, the grievance was of denial of admission in State quota seats, argument was, student though domiciled in the State of Maharashtra, had passed qualifying examination i.e. 12th Standard [H.S.C.] from State of Rajasthan. Rule 9.3 prescribing eligibility for State quota seat was pressed into service, with contention that it did not require student to pass such examination from Maharashtra. It was contended that the petitioner / student was called for counseling and she filled in scrutiny form. Later on, notification was issued and a condition was imposed that candidate ought to have passed 10th [S.S.C.] and 12th [H.S.C.] examinations from an institution situated in the State of Maharashtra. The judgment of Hon'ble Apex Court, laying down law, that after declaration of result of eligibility test, schools could not have been altered, was pressed into service. Counsel for the said petitioner also pointed out that as per Rules, in force in the State of Rajasthan, the petitioner / student was not eligible to secure seat in Rajasthan quota.
16. The said Division Bench at Bombay then reproduces Rule 9.3 as also Rules 11.3 and 16.2. In the light of these arguments, in paragraph 3, said Division Bench has concluded that Rules of NEET i.e. 11.3 or 16.2 do not prescribe eligibility for 85 % State quota seats and it is for State Government to lay down the same. In paragraph 5, Division Bench also noted that the petitioner / student did not point out a Rule in past which permitted her to secure admission in 85 % State quota though she did not pass qualifying examination from State of Maharashtra. The Division Bench observes that Rules notified by State, in July 2003, in so far as qualifications are concerned, are the same, as in earlier years and the provision requiring candidate to pass qualifying examination from State is also prevailing since last several years. The Division Bench, therefore, did not find any change effected by State of Maharashtra in said Rules after declaration of result. Thus, this ruling has got no bearing on the adjudication of controversy before us.
17. The judgment dated 17th July 2013, delivered at Aurangabad, shows challenge to Rule 4.5 on the ground that it provided for institutional preference. Challenge was by a candidate domiciled in the State of Maharashtra, who had passed 10th Standard examination from a school at Aurangabad and then shifted to Delhi for pursuing studies in 11th and 12th Standard. Thus, he passed 12th Standard from Delhi and then appeared for NEET-UG-2013 examination. Her Maharashtra ranking was 1711. In this background, argument of discrimination was advanced by inviting attention of Rule 4.7 and Rule 4.8. A common entrance test at national level was pressed into service to urge that such treatment amounted to denial of equity, as also negation of merit. Rule 9.3 was pressed into service to urge that it did not lay down such eligibility criteria. Various judgments were pressed into service. Those judgments are looked into by the Division Bench at Aurangabad from paragraph 5 onwards. In paragraphs 8 and 9, judgment of Hon'ble Apex Court , in the case of Dr. Pradeep Jain etc. etc. Vs. Union of India & others (supra) was referred, and Division Bench also noted that Hon'ble Apex Court has in strong words, called upon State Governments from avoiding wrong use of expression "domicile" in Rules regulating admission and to desist from introducing and maintaining domiciliary requirement as a condition of eligibility for such admission. Division Bench also noted that the observation of Hon'ble Apex Court, that reservation on the basis of residence within State and institutional preference cannot exceed 70 % of the open seats. After considering various judgments in paragraph 14, the said Division Bench also takes note of answers given by Hon'ble Apex Court in Saurabh Chaudri & others Vs. Union of India & others (supra). In paragraph 17, the requirement of passing 10th and 12th Standard from institution located in the State of Maharashtra, is also considered in the background of judgment of Hon'ble Apex Court in the case of Dr. Preeti Srivastava & another Vs. State of M.P. & others (supra). The Division Bench has noted that State Government is free to lay down other additional norms for admission or to regulate admission in exercise of its powers under Entry 25 List III in a manner not consistent with or in a manner which does not dilute the criteria so laid down. After considering Rule 9.3, 11.3 and 16.2, in paragraph 20, said Division Bench has concluded that 85 % State quota seats are to be filled in as per eligibility criteria prevailing in concerned State or Union Territory. In this background, the Division Bench in paragraphs 21 and 22 concludes thus :
"21. It is also to be noted that Rules notified by the State in July 2013 prescribing qualification are the same as of the earlier years and there is no departure in respect of prescribing qualifying norms under the State Rules. The petitioner does not fulfill the criteria of eligibility prescribed under the State Rules for securing admission to Under Graduate Medical Course under the State quota since the petitioner has not passed the qualifying examination from the institution situate in the State of Maharashtra.
22. As has been recorded above, the Rule prescribing institutional preference i.e. Rule 4.5 of the Rules is valid and cannot be said to be arbitrary or offending the equality test. The petitioner has an option to compete and claim a seat under 15 % All India quota."
18. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation & another Vs. Nilaybhai R. Thakore & another (supra), is the judgment of Hon'ble Apex Court which, according to the petitioner, has not been looked into by Division Bench at Aurangabad. In paragraph 8 of said judgment, Hon'ble Apex Court has found that law was well settled and reservation at under graduate courses based on domicile, university or institution, are permissible provided the reservations are not wholesale. In State of Rajasthan & another Vs. Dr. Ashok Kumar Gupta & others (supra), the Hon'ble two Judges Bench of Apex Court considers ordinance of University of Rajasthan giving weight age of 5 % to total percentage of marks if he had passed M.B.B.S. examination from same college to which he was seeking admission in post-graduate course. It was held violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. It is obvious that these two judgments of Hon'ble Apex Court do not lay down law or take view contrary to the view taken in earlier judgments or later judgments of Hon'ble Apex Court which are looked into by the said Division Bench at Aurangabad. These precedents nowhere hold that omission to provide for any quota for students like Petitioner or by ignoring the domicile in such matters, the State commits any thing wrong.
19. In Mohan Bir Singh Chawla Vs. Punjab University, Chandigarh & another (supra), is the judgment of Hon'ble two Judges of Apex Court, which practically looks into all earlier judgments. In paragraph 7 there, the Hon'ble Apex Court also notices that anyone from anywhere in the country, irrespective of his language, religion, place of birth or residence, is entitled to be afforded equal chance of admission to any secular course anywhere in the country. In paragraph 11 there, Hon'ble Apex Court has taken note of its judgment in the case of Anant Madaan Vs. State of Haryana [(1995) 2 SCC 135]. In this case, challenge was to Rule made by the Government of Haryana, reserving 85 % of M.B.B.S. / B.D.S. seats for candidates who studied 10th, 11th and 12th Standards as regular students in recognized institutions in the State of Haryana. Challenge to validity was by students who passed out these examinations from schools / colleges beyond State of Haryana but whose parents were either residing in or domiciled in the State of Haryana. Challenge to Rule was repelled following the decision of Constitution Bench of Apex Court in D.P. Joshi Vs. State of Madhya Bharat and another (supra), and decisions in the case of Dr. Jagadish Saran & others Vs. Union of India (supra), Dr. Pradeep Jain etc. etc. Vs. Union of India & others (supra) and Dr. Dinesh Kumar & others Vs. Motilal Nehru Medical College, Allahabad and others (supra). The impugned Rule was, however, treated as a rule providing preference on the ground of domicile / residence. In paragraph 15, said Bench of Hon'ble Apex Court has observed that rule preference on the basis of domicile / requirement of residence is not bad, provided it is within reasonable limits i.e. it does not result in reserving more than 85 % of the seats at graduate level.
20. In the case of Saurabh Chaudri & others Vs. Union of India & others (supra), Hon'ble Constitutional Bench of Apex Court has held that reservation on the basis of domicile is not impermissible under Article 15(1) and has explained difference between concept of domicile and place of birth. In the case of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation & another Vs. Nilaybhai R. Thakore & another (supra), reservation based on domicile, university or institution is held permissible under Article 14, provided it is not wholesale. In the case of Kumari N. Vasundara Vs. The State of Mysore & another (supra), in paragraph 8, the Larger Bench of Hon'ble Apex Court has noted the increasing need of demand of Doctors in country and obligation of State to provide medical education to those who are best suited therefor. Proper classification for said purpose and selection on merit cannot be challenge on the ground of inequality. There, the Rule prescribed a condition of residence for minimum period of 10 years. In State of Mysore, in addition, condition of being domiciled in State was held valid. Larger Bench of Hon'ble Apex Court, in the case of Dr. Pradeep Jain etc. etc. Vs. Union of India & others (supra), takes note of the difference in concept of domicile and place of birth or residence and place of birth. As all these judgments have been looked into by Division Bench at Aurangabad, on 17th July 2013, we do not find it necessary to refer to the same in more detail. It is also not necessary for us to refer to other judgments relied upon by Adv. Mr. Talekar.
21. We find it necessary to briefly refer to scheme of NEET-UG-2013 Rules, in so far as present challenge is concerned. Rule 4 is about eligibility and Rule 4.4 stipulates that normally a student must have passed S.S.C. or equivalent examination from an institution situated in the State of Maharashtra. Exception to this requirement is carved out in Rules 4.6, 4.7 and 4.8. Rule 4.5 contemplates that student should have also passed qualifying examination i.e. H.S.C. (12th Standard) from an institution situated in the State of Maharashtra. Again, Rules 4.7 and 4.8 carve out an exception to it.
22. Rule 4.6 contemplates a student who is domicile of Maharashtra. Such student is eligible for consideration if he has passed H.S.C. from an institution within Maharashtra, even though he may have passed S.S.C. from an institute situated outside Maharashtra. It cannot therefore be concluded that students domiciled in Maharashtra were not under consideration of State when these provisions were made.
23. Rules 4.7 and 4.8 carve out exception for employees of Government of Maharashtra or its undertaking or employees of Government of India or its undertaking. Their wards are excluded from this requirement of passing S.S.C. or H.S.C. examination from recognized institutions situated in the State of Maharashtra. For State Government employees, or employees of its undertaking, exclusion is applicable in case, such employee joins service since beginning at a place outside the State of Maharashtra and later on, transferred to a place within State of Maharashtra if they have reported for duty and joined the duty before last date of submission of preference form. Thus, availability of such State Government employee on duty, within Maharashtra before said date, is the pre-requisite condition. Similarly, there is an exception for State employees who have been transferred or deputed out of Maharashtra.
24. Rule 4.8 is on the same lines and is attracted in the case of Central Government employee or employee of its undertaking, with similar pre-requisite condition. The exception given to State employee or Central Government employee or then to employees of its respective undertakings again show the insistence upon need of residence within State for discharging official duties. This arrangement, therefore, shows that the State Government has found it proper to insist upon passing of 10th and 12th Standard examinations, both, from institutions located within State. Normally, most of the students of parents domiciled in the State of Maharashtra shall pass out both these examinations from school / institution within State itself. In appropriate cases, where employment of parents does not permit compliance with this twin requirement, the same has been done away. Such employees covered by exception need not be domiciled in the State of Maharashtra. A person, who has never resided in Maharashtra, can join employment of State of Maharashtra or then can be employee of Central Government or any of its undertakings. He may also come to State of Maharashtra.
25. In this situation, when State Government has not made any wholesale provision giving preference to domicile only and has found it necessary to impose twin requirement. In the light of arguments noted supra, it is not possible for this Court to hold that said requirement is either arbitrary or perverse. The petitioner has failed to point out any hostile discrimination resulting there from and has also failed to show any absence of nexus with object sought to be achieved or then lack of any intelligible differentia. The arguments advanced do not enable us to take any different view of the matter.
26. Moreover, here, the petitioner has staked claim against all India quota, as also, State quota in State of Andhra Pradesh, State of Karnataka and State of Maharashtra. Domicile in Maharashtra is claimed on the strength of certificate issued to him and to his mother. His mother appears to be an employee of State Government of Maharashtra. Perhaps, on the basis of passing 10th and 12th standard examinations from Andhra Pradesh, the petitioner staked claim to Andhra State quota. Basis on which he claimed State quota in Karnataka, is not very clear. The petition does not contain any statement about the father of Petitioner and his whereabouts. It is, however, obvious that the petitioner could not have claimed admission normally in three States simultaneously. We are unable to hold that by omitting to provide any reservation for students like present Petitioner, the State has committed any error. We also are not in position to conclude that the State Government has totally ignored the aspect of domicile in NEET-UG-2013 Rules or impugned provisions.
27. Taking overall view of the matter, we find that no relief can be granted to the Petitioners. No case is made out warranting interference in exercise of writ jurisdiction. The petition is accordingly dismissed. Rule is discharged. No costs.