The Madras High Court on Wednesday highlighted that cases concerning educational admissions must be prioritised, so that it can be clarified in a timely manner that admissions done in violation of applicable rules will not be tolerated. ."It is high time that Courts start showing more seriousness in cases of this nature particularly coming under medical education since the institutions and the candidates must be given a very clear message that any admission that is done in violation of the Regulations, will not be tolerated by the Courts and the Courts will not deal with such cases with kid gloves."Madras High Court.The Court added, ."Any misplaced sympathies shown by Courts in the field of education and more particularly in medical education, will send a wrong signal and institutions and candidates will fall into a wrong notion that ultimately the Courts will come to their aid even where the initial admission is illegal. The Courts will have to adopt this stern stand consistently to bring about a certainty while dealing with illegal admissions.".Justice Anand Venkatesh made the observations while dismissing a batch of writ petitions challenging MCI orders discharging around 65 PG medical students from medical colleges for violation of mandatory counselling norms during their 2017 admissions. .Given the two years it took to finally dispose of the matter, and admitting that the Court was also partly responsible for the delay, Justice Venkatesh remarked further, ."Unless one accepts the mistakes, there is no chance for improvement and evolution. This Court must take a cue from this case and ensure that all education cases are disposed of within the same academic year in which it is filed by giving more priority to such cases. This Court must also be doubly careful while granting interim orders. Since by virtue of interim orders, candidates complete the course and write examinations and equity starts going in their favour."Madras High Court.Court also to blame for the delay in disposing of the case.By the time the Court had set aside their 2017 PG admissions on Wednesday, the student-petitioners had already completed three years of study and were intending to write their final exams. The writ petitions challenging the MCI's discharge orders were filed in 2018. .On the strength of interim orders, the student petitioners were allowed to continue their studies, on the condition that they cannot claim any equity if the Court passed a final verdict against them. The results of their final exam were made subject to the writ petitions .Since the petitioners had agreed to this condition by way of signed affidavits, Justice Venkatesh declined to allow them any equitable relief even though they had completed three years' of PG medical studies. .The Court added that, ideally, the parties should have taken steps to ensure that their cases were taken up at the earliest. Instead, it was noted that the case was only revitalised only in 2020 when it was time for the petitoners to write their final year exams. As noted in the order,."... (were it not for the final exams this year) these Writ Petitions would have continued to hibernate for some more time. Therefore, even though the dismissal of these Writ Petitions is going to cause a great damage to their career, it is something which is not totally unexpected and more so due to the fact that they undertook before this Court that they will not claim any equity on the ground of interim orders passed in their favour." .Justice Venkatesh, however, acknowledged that the Court is also partly to blame for having taken such a long time to hear the matter. As noted in his order, ."To an extent, this Court also should take the blame on itself for having taken such a long time to hear these cases finally and render the judgement. During the start of every academic year, apart from the institutions and candidates, this Court also gets very busy since writ petitions get piled up on various issues and many times interim orders are passed by the Court to strike a balance."."It will be more appropriate for this Court to give priority to education cases and complete it as early as possible since the delay will ultimately bring in new challenges to this Court because the candidate would have completed the course by virtue of the interim order and will be claiming equity before this Court. A situation like that actually puts the Court in a state of quandary."Madras High Court.Justice Venkatesh added that if the matter had been heard and disposed of in 2018, the Court would have simply had to look into the only aspect as to whether the admissions were made in accordance with the Regulations. However, now, the Bench noted that "... the time spent by the candidates for completing the course and writing the examinations, stares at the face of this Court. To that extent, it makes the job of this Court even more difficult. Of course, this is more self-inflicted and this Court should have given some priority and completed these cases in the year 2018 itself.".Better that vacant medical seats stay unfilled than wasting them on unmeritorious candidates.The student-petitioners were discharged on the ground that their 2017 admissions were made in violation of the mandate for common counselling under Regulation 9 of the MCI regulations. .Appearing before the Court, the Centralized Admission Committee (CENTAC) supported the MCI's decision to discharge the students, contending that students who were not found on its merit list had been given admission. .Passing a common judgment on the writ petitions filed by the aggrieved students and the medical colleges, the Court found that the 2017 admissions were illegal. Therefore, there was no ground for the Court to interfere in orders passed by the Medical Council of India (MCI), the Judge said..Reiterating observations made by the Supreme Court on various occasions, Justice Venkatesh noted that when it comes to medical education, merit can never be compromised. The Judge remarked, ."... there cannot be any compromise on merit and this is one field where mediocrity should never be encouraged. It would be better even if some seats go unfilled and wasted rather than filling up such seats with unmeritorious candidates. That will lead to compromising the precious lives of the citizens of this Country. Having said this, on various occasions, the judiciary had shown misplaced sympathy on unmeritorious candidates through interim orders and that has proven to be counterproductive more particularly when it comes to medical education. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has frowned upon this attitude time and again...".Justice Venkatesh went on to castigate the medical colleges for various violations noticed in the medical admissions, which also included calculated delays in conducting medical admission counselling in violation of MCI rules. Pertinently, the Judge noted, ."This is not peculiar to the present case, and every year this Court is able to see that there is a huge delay even to start the first round of counselling and everything is rushed up by the time it reaches the stage of mop-up counselling. It is not known as to whether such a confusion is created for any valid reasons or it is intentionally done to help the Self-Financing Institutions to take advantage of the last minute chaos and admit candidates on their own. Such a doubt is entertained by this Court since it happens year after year. Whatever may be the situation, no candidate can be admitted in any institution for a P.G. course otherwise through a common counselling. This is mandatory as per Regulation 9A of the MCI Post-Graduate Regulations, 2000.Attitude of medical colleges in taking advantage, enriching themselves require condemnation: Court.The Court additionally took note that such illegal admissions were made to the more sought after clinical seats. .Further, the Court was appraised that there were meritorious students who were denied admissions for their inability to pay fees demanded by the colleges over and above the fee advised by the CENTAC..Given that the aspect of the legality of fees demanded was pending before a Division Bench of the Court, Justice Venkatesh did not delve deeper on the issue. .However, since it was clear that the medical colleges had taken advantage of the situation and intelligently manipulated seat allotment unilaterally, by not admitting candidates found on the CENTAC merit list and in violation of MCI Regulations, the Court has imposed Rs 5 lakhs each as costs on the following colleges:Arupadai Veedu Medical CollegeVinayaka Mission Medical CollegeMahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research InstituteSri Manakula Vinayagar Medical College and HospitalVenkateswara Medical College and HospitalPondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences.The costs are to be paid within two weeks to charitable trusts, COVID-19 relief initiatives and the Cancer Institute at Adyar, as stipulated in the order. The Judge said, ."The fact remains that the private institutions took advantage of the situation and the confusion caused during the last minute and had intelligently manipulated and filled up the majority of the clinical courses on 31.05.2017 unilaterally. These clinical seats which were kept vacant after not admitting the candidates allotted by CENTAC, was gainfully used in their favour by the respective institutions, which ultimately resulted in the MCI issuing the discharge orders. Therefore, the attitude shown by each institution in taking advantage of the situation and enriching themselves requires the condemnation of this Court. The respective institutions are therefore liable to pay for the dubious methods adopted by them in filling the seats unilaterally at the cost of denying admission to candidates who were found meritorious and allotted seats by CENTAC in the respondent institutions."