The Supreme Court yesterday held 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..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/Ayurveda courses..A distinction, however, was made in this regard over the question of admission to postgraduate and post-doctoral super specialty courses by the Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S Abdul Nazeer..The judgment was rendered in a batch of writ petitions challenging the Rule 3(1)(c) of the Medical Colleges and Dental Colleges of Assam (Regulations of Admission into 1st-year MBBS/BDS Courses) Rules (Rules) contending that this Rule was in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India..Domicile criterion challenged by Medical School Aspirants.A number of petitioners approached the Supreme Court challenging the Constitutional validity of this Rule which lays down the conditions to be fulfilled by students to avail the State quota in Medical and Dental Colleges in Assam..The eligibility prescribed under the Rule in question was three-fold – first, the candidate must be an Indian citizen; second, the candidate must be a permanent citizen of the State of Assam or the father or mother of the candidate must have resided in Assam for a continuous period of twenty years; and third, the candidate must have completed his or her education from classes VII to XII in Assam..The third condition here 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 Rule 3(1)(c) is “is clearly 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. In light of this, it was argued,.“the requirement of study in educational institution/s in the State, as provided in Rule 3(1)(c) has to be construed as directory and not mandatory. The classification made is a hostile one and is not based on any intelligible differentia.”.State of Assam’s rationale for imposing Domicile requirement.The State of Assam, through Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh and AAG Nalin Kohli, submitted that these provisions and requirements were essential to ensure that bonafide candidates from the State of 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 the remote areas, it was considered to be quintessential to ensure that admissions in medical MBBS courses in the Government medical colleges do become available to bona fide candidates of Assam belonging to the State.”.The provision under Rule 3(1)(c) was, in fact, also challenged before the Guwahati High Court which held that,.“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.”.The Judgment.The Court ruled that the classification that has been made in Rule 3(1)(c) of the Rules of 2017 is not unreasonable or violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India..The Court observed that the exclusion was not absolute and that candidates can apply under all India seats adding that the State government has the liberty to lay down domicile requirements..“The exclusion is not total for them. However, with respect to the State quota seats, since it is open to the State Government to lay down the educational as well as domicile requirement, incumbents must fulfill the criteria.”.Placing reliance on multiple judgments, the Court was of the view that such a requirement laid down by a State government cannot be said to be arbitrary or violative of Article 14 since the object of such a criterion is to emancipate the educational standards in the State..The Court also took note that a relaxation is given under this Rule to those candidates whose mother or father is posted outside the State under Central government or State government service. Therefore, this Rule, the Court said,.“[C]annot be said to unintelligible criteria suffering from vice of arbitrariness in any manner whatsoever, thus, Rule 3(1)(c) framed by the Government of Assam is based on an intelligible differentia and cannot be said to be discriminatory and in violation of Article 14.”.The Court, effectively found no substance in the petitions and dismissed the same..Read the judgment below.