DR. N. KARTHIKEYAN VS THE STATE OF TAMIL NADU

DR. N. KARTHIKEYAN VS THE STATE OF TAMIL NADU

NON­REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL ORIGINAL/APPELLATE JURISDICTION 
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 53 OF 2022
DR. N. KARTHIKEYAN AND ORS.   ...PETITIONER(S)
VERSUS
THE STATE OF TAMIL NADU
AND ORS.    ...RESPONDENT(S)
WITH
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2066   OF 2022
[Arising out of SLP(C) No.2514 of 2022]
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2065 OF 2022
[Arising out of SLP(C) No.13557 of 2020]
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 1299 OF 2020
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3840 OF 2020
CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 3841­3843 OF 2020
O R D E R
B.R. GAVAI, J.
1. Leave granted in all the Special Leave Petitions.
1
2. Rule granted in the Writ Petitions.
3. Writ Petition (Civil) No.53 of 2022 challenges the validity of
G.O. (Ms.) No. 462 dated 7th  November, 2020, issued by the
Health   and   Family   Welfare   (MCA­1)   Department   of   the
Government of Tamil Nadu (hereinafter referred to as “the said
G.O.”).  The basic contention of the writ petitioners is that the
reservation of 50% Super Specialty seats (DM/M.Ch.) for inservice candidates in Government Medical Colleges in the State
of Tamil Nadu is not permissible in law.  
4. Civil Appeal arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.
2514 of 2022 challenges the judgment and order of the learned
Single Judge of the High Court of Judicature at Madras dated
12th January, 2022, vide which, the said High Court has issued
a   direction   to   the   Director   of   Medical   Education,   Kilpauk,
Chennai  to  implement the said G.O. for  the academic year
2021­2022 itself, if there is no legal impediment to do the same.
2
5. This Court vide interim order dated 27th November, 2020,
passed in Civil Appeal No. 3840 of 20201
 had directed that the
counselling for admission to Super Specialty Medical Courses
for   the   academic   year   2020­2021   shall   proceed   without
providing for reservations to in­service doctors.  
6. The   writ   petitioners   as   well   as   the   appellants   in   the
present case have urged this Court to continue the aforesaid
interim order of this Court dated 27th November, 2020 (supra),
even for the academic year 2021­2022.
7. Per   contra,   this   request   made   by   the   writ
petitioners/appellants is vehemently opposed by the learned
counsels appearing on behalf of the State as well as the inservice candidates.  
8. We have, therefore, heard the learned counsels for the
parties   on   the   limited   question,   as   to   whether   the   interim
protection,  which   was  granted  for  the  academic  year  2020­
1 [Dr. Prerit Sharma & Ors. Versus Dr. Bilu B.S. & Ors.]
3
2021, vide order dated 27th  November, 2020 (supra), should
also be continued for the academic year 2021­2022 or not.
9. We have heard Shri Dushyant Dave, Shri Shyam Divan
and   Shri   Gopal   Sankaranarayanan,   learned   Senior   Counsel
appearing on behalf of the writ petitioners/appellants as well as
Ms.   Aishwarya   Bhati,   learned   Additional   Solicitor   General
(“ASG”) appearing for the Union of India.  
10. Shri C.S. Vaidyanathan, learned Senior Counsel and Shri
Amit   Anand   Tiwari,   learned   Additional   Advocate   General
(“AAG”) have made submissions on behalf of the State of Tamil
Nadu and Shri P. Wilson, learned Senior Counsel has argued
on behalf of the in­service doctors. 
11. The learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the
writ   petitioners/appellants   submitted   that   the   nine­judge
Constitution Bench of this Court in the case of Indra Sawhney
&  Ors.   vs.  Union  of   India  &  Ors.2 as well as Constitution
Bench of this Court in the case of Dr. Preeti Srivastava and
2 1992 Supp. (3) SCC 217
4
another vs. State of M.P. and others3 have specifically held
that there cannot be any reservation for admission in Super
Specialty   courses.     It   is   submitted   that   NEET­SS     2021
Information   Bulletin   (hereinafter   referred   to   as   “NEET
Bulletin”),   in   clause   10.10,   specifically   states   that,   as   per
judgment   of   the   Constitution   Bench   of   this   Court   in   Writ
Petition (C) No.350 of 1998, there is no reservation of seats for
Super Specialty (DM/M.Ch.) courses.  It is submitted that the
case of Dr. Sweety Bhartiya vs. State of M.P. & Ors., which
is referred to in the NEET Bulletin, is a case which was a part
of the batch of cases disposed of by this Court in the case of
Dr. Preeti Srivastava (supra).
12. The learned Senior Counsel further submitted that since
the   matters   regarding   co­ordination   and   determination   of
standards in institutions for higher education or research and
scientific   and   technical   institutions  are  squarely   covered  by
Item 66 in List­I of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of
India, it is the Regulation issued by the Medical Council of
3 (1999) 7 SCC 120
5
India, which would prevail over the said G.O.  It is submitted
that the State will have no power to provide reservation of seats
in Super Specialty courses, in view of the stipulation contained
in clause 10.10 of the NEET Bulletin.
13. Shri   Dave   and   Shri   Divan   further   submitted   that   the
finding of the Constitution Bench of this Court in the case of
Tamil   Nadu  Medical   Officers   Association  and   others   vs.
Union of India and others4
 to the effect that the States have
legislative competence and authority to provide reservation for
in­service candidates does not lay down a correct proposition of
law.  It is submitted that, in view of the judgments of this Court
in the cases of Indra Sawhney (supra), Dr. Preeti Srivastava
(supra) and other cases, it is not at all permissible to provide
reservation for Super Specialty courses.  It is submitted that it
is only merit and merit alone which shall weigh while giving
admissions in the Super Specialty courses.  
4 (2021) 6 SCC 568
6
14. It is also submitted by Shri Dave and Shri Divan that the
judgment of this Court in the case of  Tamil  Nadu  Medical
Officers Association (supra) is restricted only to postgraduate
degree/diploma   courses   and   cannot   be   made   applicable   to
Super Specialty courses.  It is, therefore, urged that the interim
order dated 27th November, 2020 (supra), which was passed by
this Court for the  academic year 2020­2021, should also be
continued for the academic year 2021­2022. 
15. Ms.   Aishwarya   Bhati,   learned   ASG   appearing   for   the
Union   of   India   supported   the   request   made   by   the   writ
petitioners/appellants   and   submitted   that   the   stand   of   the
Union of India was also to continue the interim protection,
which   was   granted   by   this   Court,   vide   order   dated   27th
November, 2020 (supra), for the academic year 2020­2021.
16. Shri   C.S.   Vaidyanathan,   learned   Senior   Counsel
appearing on behalf of the State of Tamil Nadu, submitted that
this Bench, consisting of two Judges, is bound by the law laid
down by the Constitution Bench in the case of  Tamil  Nadu
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Medical Officers Association (supra).  It is submitted that the
Constitution   Bench   in   the   case   of  Tamil   Nadu   Medical
Officers   Association  (supra)   has   specifically   held   that   the
State is within its competence to provide reservation for inservice candidates.  It is submitted that the Constitution Bench
has specifically held that the State is empowered to provide for
a   separate   source   of   entry   or   reservation   for   in­service
candidates seeking admission to postgraduate degree/diploma
courses,   in   view   of   Schedule   VII   List   III   Entry   25   of   the
Constitution of India.  It is submitted that, it has been held by
this Court that the policy for such a reservation must provide
that, subsequent to obtaining the postgraduate degree by the
in­service doctors concerned through such separate channel,
they must serve the State in the rural, tribal and hilly areas for
a certain amount of years and execute bonds for such sum as
the respective State may consider fit and proper.  
17. Shri Vaidyanathan further submitted that on account of
non­availability   of   the   candidates   having   degree   in   super
8
specialization,   as   many   as   49   vacancies   for   the   posts   of
Professors/Associate Professors and 58 vacancies for the posts
of Assistant Professors could not be filled.  It is submitted that
the channel for admission for in­service candidates/categories
is provided so that in­service candidates would serve the State
Government and that they could be appointed on the vacant
posts of Assistant/Associate Professors and Professors.   It is
submitted that if this is not done, there is a danger of a large
number of Super Specialty seats being reduced on account of
non­availability of the requisite number of faculty.  
18. It is further submitted that all the candidates selected
through in­service channels for the Super Specialty courses at
the time of joining are required to execute a bond that they will
serve the Government till their superannuation.  It is, therefore,
submitted   that,   in­service   reservation   is   provided   with   an
avowed object of getting services of such candidates till their
superannuation.   It is submitted that, per contra, if all the
seats are filled in through open channel, prior experience would
9
show that all such candidates would leave after a bond period
of two years or even prior to that by paying the bond money.  It
is, therefore, submitted that this will lead to a very dangerous
situation wherein the faculty members would not be available
for Super Specialty seats and the number of such seats would
drastically reduce.  
19. Shri Amit Anand Tiwari, learned AAG, submitted that the
stand taken by the Union of India is inconsistent, inasmuch as
the   Government   of   India   was   already   providing   separate
entrance   examination   for   postgraduate   and   Super   Specialty
seats   and   was   providing   for   separate   entry   for   in­service
candidates   in   the   name   of   ‘sponsored   candidates’   (service
candidates of various Government Institutions).  He, therefore,
submitted that the Union of India cannot be permitted to take a
contrary view and oppose the separate channel provided for inservice candidates by the State of Tamil Nadu.   
20. We clarify that we are passing the present order for the
limited purpose of considering, as to whether the interim order
10
dated 27th November, 2020 (supra), which was granted for the
academic year 2020­2021, should also be continued for the
academic year 2021­2022 or not.   We further clarify that the
present   order   is   being   passed   only   on  prima   facie
considerations.  
21. No doubt that this Court has passed the interim order
dated   27th  November,   2020   (supra),   thereby   directing   that
counselling for admission to Super Specialty medical courses
for   the  academic   year   2020­2021  shall   proceed   without
providing for reservation to in­service candidates/doctors.  It is
relevant to note that this Court in the interim order dated 27th
November,   2020  (supra),   has   specifically   observed   that   the
process   for   admissions   to   Super   Specialty   medical   courses
started on 3rd August, 2020, and it was made clear to all the
competing   candidates   that   there   shall   be   no   reservation   to
Super Specialty medical courses. This Court further notes that
the said G.O. was issued on 7th November, 2020, i.e., after the
admission process had begun.  It could thus be seen that what
11
weighed with this Court while passing the interim order dated
27th  November, 2020  (supra) was that the rules of the game
were   changed   after   the   admission   process   had   begun.
However, in the penultimate para, this Court has specifically
clarified that it had not expressed any opinion on the validity of
said G.O. This Court also reiterated that the said direction
would be operative only for the academic year 2020­2021.  
22. Insofar   as  academic   year   2021­2022  is   concerned,
undisputedly,   the   said   G.O.   was   notified   prior   to   the
commencement of the admission process for the said academic
year. 
23. The   Constitution   Bench   in   the   case   of  Tamil   Nadu
Medical Officers Association (supra) has specifically held that
the State is empowered to provide a separate channel/source of
entry   or   reservation   for   admission   to   postgraduate
degree/diploma   medical   courses   insofar   as   in­service
candidates are concerned.  
12
24. It will not be out of place to mention that this Bench is
sitting in a combination of two Judges.   Strong reliance has
been placed on behalf of the writ petitioners/appellants on the
Constitution   Bench   judgment   in   the   case   of  Dr.   Preeti
Srivastava  (supra).  With equal vehemence, reliance is placed
by   the   State   of   Tamil   Nadu   and   the   in­service
candidates/doctors on the Constitution Bench judgment in the
case of Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association (supra).  As
such, we are faced with a challenge as to which of these two
Constitution   Bench   judgments   should   guide   us   while
considering the question, as to whether the interim protection
as was granted for the academic year 2020­2021 also needs to
be continued or not for the academic year 2021­2022. 
25. In the case of Dr. Preeti Srivastava (supra), the question
that fell for consideration before the Constitution Bench was, as
to whether any type of relaxation would be permissible at the
Super Specialty level.  In the said case, the minimum qualifying
marks for the general category candidates were 45%.  However,
13
the   minimum   qualifying   marks   for   the   reserved   category
candidates were lowered down to 20%.  In this situation, this
Court found that this would make it difficult for the reserved
category candidates to bring their performance on par with the
general   category   candidates   in   the   course   of   postgraduate
studies.       This   Court,   therefore,   found   that   lowering   the
qualifying   criteria   for   reserved   category   candidates,   thereby
resulting   in   great   disparity   of   qualifying   marks   between   a
general   category   candidate   on   one   hand   and   a   reserved
category candidate on the other hand, was not permissible.  
26. However, in the case of  Tamil  Nadu  Medical  Officers
Association  (supra), the question, as to whether the States
have legislative competence to provide for a separate source of
entry or reservation for in­service candidates seeking admission
to postgraduate degree/diploma medical courses, directly fell
for   consideration   before   the   Constitution   Bench.     The
conclusions in the judgment of M.R. Shah, J. in the said case
are as under:
14
“Conclusions
23. The  sum  and substance  of the  above
discussion   and   conjoint   reading   of   the
decisions   referred   to   and   discussed
hereinabove, our conclusions are as under:
23.1. That List I Entry 66 is a specific entry
having a very limited scope.
23.2. It   deals   with   “coordination   and
determination   of   standards”   in   higher
education.
23.3. The   words   “coordination   and
determination   of   standards   would   mean
laying down the said standards.
23.4. The   Medical   Council   of   India   which
has been constituted under the provisions
of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 is
the   creature   of   the   statute   in   exercise   of
powers under List I Entry 66 and has no
power to make any provision for reservation,
more particularly, for in­service candidates
by   the   States   concerned,   in   exercise   of
powers under List III Entry 25.
23.5. That   Regulation   9   of   the   MCI
Regulations,   2000   does   not   deal   with
and/or   make   provisions   for   reservation
and/or affect the legislative competence and
authority of the States concerned to make
reservation and/or make special provision
15
like the provision providing for a separate
source   of   entry   for   in­service   candidates
seeking   admission   to   postgraduate   degree
courses and therefore the States concerned
to   be   within   their   authority   and/or
legislative   competence   to   provide   for   a
separate   source   of   entry   for   in­service
candidates   seeking   admission   to
postgraduate degree courses in exercise of
powers under List III Entry 25.
23.6. If it is held that Regulation 9, more
particularly,   Regulation   9(IV)   deals   with
reservation for in­service candidates, in that
case,   it   will   be   ultra   vires   of   the   Indian
Medical   Council   Act,   1956   and   it   will   be
beyond   the   legislative   competence   under
List I Entry 66.
23.7. Regulation 9 of the MCI Regulations,
2000   to   the   extent   tinkering   with
reservation   provided   by   the   State   for   inservice   candidates   is   ultra   vires   on   the
ground that it is arbitrary, discriminatory
and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the
Constitution of India.
23.8. That   the   State   has   the   legislative
competence and/or authority to provide for
a   separate   source   of   entry   for   in­service
candidates   seeking   admission   to
postgraduate   degree/diploma   courses,   in
exercise of powers under List III Entry 25.
However, it is observed that the policy must
16
provide   that   subsequent   to   obtaining   the
postgraduate   degree   by   the   in­service
doctors concerned obtaining entry in degree
courses   through   such   separate   channel
serve the State in the rural, tribal and hilly
areas at least for five years after obtaining
the degree/diploma and for that they will
execute bonds for such sum the respective
States may consider fit and proper.
23.9. It is specifically observed and clarified
that   the   present   decision   shall   operate
prospectively   and   any   admissions   given
earlier taking a contrary view shall not be
affected by this judgment.”
27. The conclusions in the judgment of Aniruddha Bose, J. in
the said case read thus:
“95. Because of these reasons, we hold that
there is no bar in Regulation 9 of the MCI
Postgraduate   Medical   Education
Regulations, 2000 as it prevailed on 15­2­
2012   and   subsequently   amended   on   5­4­
2018 on individual States in providing for
reservation   of   in­service   doctors   for
admission into postgraduate medical degree
courses.   But   to   take   benefit   of   such
separate   entry   channel,   the   aspiring   inservice   doctors   must   clear   NEET
examination with the minimum prescribed
17
marks   as   stipulated   in   the   2000
Regulations.
96. We   respectfully   differ   from   the   views
expressed   by   the   Bench   of   three   Hon'ble
Judges   of   this   Court   in State   of
U.P. v. Dinesh   Singh   Chauhan [State   of
U.P. v. Dinesh Singh Chauhan, (2016) 9 SCC
749 : 8 SCEC 219] to the extent it has been
held in the said decision that reservation for
the said category of in­service doctors by the
State would be contrary to the provisions of
the 2000 Regulations. In our opinion, that is
not the correct view under the Constitution.
The reference is answered accordingly.
97. We   also   expect   that   the   statutory
instruments   of   the   respective   State
Governments   providing   for   such   separate
channel of entry should make a minimum
service in rural or remote or difficult areas
for a specified period mandatory before a
candidate   could   seek   admission   through
such separate channel and also subsequent
to obtaining the degree. On completion of
the   course,   to   ensure   the   successful
candidates serve in such areas, the State
shall formulate a policy of making the inservice   doctors   who   obtain   entry   in
postgraduate   medical   degree   courses
through   independent   in­service   channel
execute bonds for such sum the respective
States may consider fit and proper.”
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28. The question that is required to be decided in the present
batch of cases is, as to whether the said G.O. which provided
for   50%   reservation   for   admission   in   Super   Specialty
courses/seats is permissible in law or not.  
29. The   Constitution   Bench   in   the   case   of  Tamil   Nadu
Medical  Officers  Association  (supra)  clearly holds that it is
within   the   competence   of   the   State   Legislature   to   provide
separate channel/source of entry or reservation for in­service
candidates seeking admission to postgraduate degree/diploma
medical courses. Though, it is sought to be urged on behalf of
the   writ   petitioners/appellants   that   the   judgment   of   the
Constitution   Bench   in   the   case   of  Tamil   Nadu   Medical
Officers Association  (supra) deals only with the postgraduate
degree/diploma   medical   courses   and   cannot   be   made
applicable to Super Specialty courses, and that the present
cases would be governed by the Constitution Bench judgment
in the case of Dr. Preeti Srivastava (supra); we find it, at least
19
prima facie, difficult to accept the said proposition made on
behalf of the writ petitioners/appellants.   
30. As to what is ratio decidendi has been succinctly explained
by this Court in the case of Regional Manager and Another
vs. Pawan Kumar Dubey5 as under:
“7..........Indeed, we do not think that
the principles of law declared and
applied so often have really changed.
But, the application of the same law to
the differing circumstances and facts
of various cases which have come up
to this Court could create   the
impression   sometimes   that   there   is
some conflict between different
decisions of this Court. Even where
there appears to be some conflict, it
would, we think, vanish when the
ratio decidendi of each case is correctly
understood. It   is   the   rule   deducible
from the application of law to the facts
and circumstances of a case which
constitutes its ratio decidendi and not
some conclusion based upon facts
which may appear to be similar. One
additional or different fact can make a
world of difference between
conclusions   in   two   cases   even   when
the same principles are applied in each
case to similar facts.”
5 (1976) 3 SCC 334
20
31. It   would   also   be   relevant   to   refer   to   the   following
observations of this Court in the case of Union of India and
Others vs. Dhanwanti Devi and Others6
:
“9........... It is not everything said by a
judge while giving judgment that
constitutes a precedent.       The   only
thing    in    a            Judge's  decision
binding a party is the principle upon
which the case is decided and for this
reason   it is   important   to   analyse   a
decision and isolate from it the  ratio
decidendi. According to the wellsettled
theory of precedents, every decision
contains three basic postulates (i)
findings of material facts, direct and
inferential. An inferential finding of facts
is the inference which the Judge draws
from the direct, or perceptible facts; (ii)
statements of the principles of law
applicable to the legal problems
disclosed      by      the      facts;     and
(iii)   judgment   based   on   the   combined
effect of the above. A decision is only an
authority   for what   it   actually   decides.
What is of the essence in a decision is
its ratio and not every observation
found therein nor what logically follows
from the various observations made in
the judgment. Every judgment must be
read as applicable to the particular facts
proved, or assumed to be proved, since
6 (1996) 6 SCC 44
21
the generality of the expressions which
may be found there is not intended to
be   exposition   of   the   whole   law, but
governed and qualified by the particular
facts of the case in which such
expressions are to be found. It would,
therefore, be not profitable to extract a
sentence   here   and there from the
judgment and to build upon it
because the essence of the decision is its
ratio and   not   every observation found
therein. The enunciation of the reason
or principle on which a question before
a court has been decided is alone
binding as a precedent. The concrete
decision alone is binding   between the
parties to it, but it is the abstract ratio
decidendi, ascertained on a
consideration of   the judgment in
relation   to   the   subject   matter   of   the
decision, which alone has the force of
law and which, when it is clear what it
was, is binding. It is only the principle
laid down in the judgment that is
binding law under Article 141 of the
Constitution. A deliberate judicial
decision arrived at after hearing an
argument on a question which arises in
the case or is put in   issue   may
constitute   a   precedent,   no   matter   for
what reason, and the precedent by long
recognition may mature into rule of
stare decisis. It is the rule deductible
from the application of law to the facts
and circumstances   of   the   case   which
constitutes its ratio decidendi.”
22
32. At  the  cost   of  repetition,   we  may   state  that   the  issue
involved in the case of Dr. Preeti Srivastava (supra) was, as to
whether   a   relaxation   can   be   provided   insofar   as   minimum
qualifying   marks   are   concerned   to   the   reserved   category
candidates, resulting in a huge disparity of qualifying marks for
the   reserved   category   candidates   as   against   the   general
category candidates.  The question, as to whether a reservation
or a separate channel for admission can be provided to the inservice candidates did not fall for consideration in the case of
Dr. Preeti Srivastava (supra).  
33. As   against   this,   in   the   case   of  Tamil   Nadu   Medical
Officers Association  (supra), a direct question, as to whether
the State was competent to provide reservation by a separate
channel   for   in­service   candidates   seeking   admission   to
postgraduate degree/diploma medical courses was permissible
or not, fell for consideration before the Constitution Bench.
The Constitution Bench in the case of  Tamil  Nadu  Medical
Officers   Association  (supra)  has   held   that   insofar   as
23
admission to postgraduate courses are concerned, it is within
the competence of the State Legislature to do so.  
34. As such, we find that the facts in the present case are
much nearer to the facts that fell for consideration in the case
of Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association  (supra). We are
also   of   the  prima   facie  view   that   the   facts   that   fell   for
consideration in the case of Dr. Preeti Srivastava (supra) were
distinct from the facts that fall for consideration in the present
case.  We are, therefore, of the considered view that taking into
consideration the principles of judicial discipline and judicial
propriety,   we   should   be   guided   by   the   judgment   of   the
Constitution   Bench   in   the   case   of  Tamil   Nadu   Medical
Officers Association  (supra) rather than the judgment of the
Constitution   Bench   in   the   case   of  Dr.   Preeti   Srivastava
(supra). 
35. We are, therefore, of the view that no case is made out for
continuing the interim protection which was granted for the
academic   year   2020­2021  vide   interim   order   dated  27th
24
November, 2020 (supra) and thus, we reject the prayer in that
regard.  Needless to say that the State of Tamil Nadu would be
at liberty to continue the counselling for academic year 2021­
2022 by taking into consideration the reservation provided by it
as per the said G.O.  
36. List the matters for hearing after vacations.  
…..….......................J.
[L. NAGESWARA RAO ]
                    …….........................J.
[B.R. GAVAI]
NEW DELHI;
MARCH 16, 2022
25

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले

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