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"We are of the considered view that interim arrangement deserves to be made by balancing the interest of both parties namely, both set of students...", the Court said.
The Karnataka High Court last week gave the green signal to the state government, the Department of Medical Education, and the Karnataka Examination Authority (KEA) to conduct a fresh mop-up round for admission to postgraduate medical courses.
The order passed by a Bench of Justices Arun Kumar and Pradeep Singh Yerur reads as follows:
Karnataka High Court
While allowing the interim arrangement, the Bench further clarified,
"Such admission card/letter issued by the respondent-authorities would not entitle or empower such students to get themselves admitted to the respective colleges to which they have been granted admission, till these writ petitions are disposed of.
We also make it clear that member-colleges of petitioner-Foundation, who have admitted the students as noticed herein above, would also be bound by the order that would be passed by this Court and their admissions which have been made by the respective colleges would be subject to the result of these writ petitions."
The order was passed in a plea filed by Association of Minority Professional Colleges in Karnataka and others, challenging the notification of the authorities dated August 15, which allowed fresh registration of candidates for counselling with respect to admission to PG medical courses.
In an order dated January 18, 2016, the Supreme Court had clarified that the time schedule stipulated for admission to undergraduate and postgraduate courses by the Medical Council of India (MCI) is to be adhered to. It had approved the time schedule prescribed in the notification issued by MCI, which in turn received previous sanction of the Central government.
In 2018, the MCI had substituted the time schedule to be followed for completing admission process for PG courses and further notified thereunder that at the end of "mop-up" round of counselling, all those seats that remained unfilled/vacant should be handed over to the respective institutions.
Subsequently, the counselling authority should forward the list of students in order of merit equaling to ten times the number of vacant seats in respect of medical colleges, in light of consensual agreement entered into between Government of Karnataka and first petitioner.
The time schedule fixed for completion of PG admission is May 31, every academic year. However, owing to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the Apex Court extended the last date of admission to July 31, for the academic year 2020-21.
In Karnataka, the process of counselling was set in motion. Two rounds of counselling and the mop-up round were concluded on July 27.
The Department of Medical Education, by communication dated July 28, had directed all private medical and dental colleges to fill "the stray vacancy seats" by July 31. The names of eligible candidates, and their details in the ratio of 1:10 was also shared with the private medical and dental colleges.
After calling for applications from eligible candidates for filling up vacant seats, on July 30, KEA notified on its website the list of vacant and unreported seats after the mop-up round. Upon transfer of the unfilled seats and unreported seats allotted in the mop-up round of counselling along with the list of eligible candidates, the petitioners completed the admission process between July 27 and 31.
However, as the states of Bihar and Rajasthan could not complete the counselling process due to COVID-19, the Supreme Court extended the last date for admission from July 31 to August 31.
Later, in line with the Apex Court order, the KEA, by notification dated August 15, proposed to conduct an "extended mop-up round" for filling up of PG seats in the petitioner’s member-institutions.
Under the circumstances, the issue that arose was that students who had already been admitted from July 27 to 31 would be unseated if fresh registration and counseling is done.
Aggrieved by the said decision of the authorities, the instant matter was filed before the Court.
Arguments of Parties
Senior Advocates DN Nanjunda Reddy, Madhusudhan R Naik and Shashikiran Shetty, appearing for petitioners, contended that the orders passed by the Apex Court did not suggest undoing of the process of admission already done and extension was granted only in cases where the counselling process could not be completed.
The member colleges of the petitioner foundation have already made admission under the consensual agreement, by accommodating unreported students admitted under the mop-up round of counselling. Therefore, if the mop-up round is now allowed to be extended by the impugned communications and notification, it would be in gross violation of law, affecting the rights of students who have already been admitted, submitted the petitioners.
Additional Advocate General Dhyan Chinnappa and Advocate NK Ramesh, appearing for the respondents, submitted that pursuant to the impugned notification, several students have arrived from various parts of the country to participate in the fresh mop-up round of counselling notified by KEA under notification dated August 15.
Further, it was argued that the said exercise was being undertaken by the state by virtue of the order passed by the Apex Court on July 30 extending the time schedule up to August 31. In the event that the process of counselling is stayed, it would result in great prejudice being caused to the students.