BOARD OF GOVERNORS IN SUPERSESSION OF MEDICAL COUNCIL OF INDIA VERSUS DR. PRIYAMBADA SHARMA & OTHERS

BOARD OF GOVERNORS IN SUPERSESSION  OF MEDICAL COUNCIL OF INDIA VERSUS DR.   PRIYAMBADA   SHARMA   &   OTHERS 

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO(s).                    OF 2022
(Arising out of SLP(C) No(s).3507­3508 of 2020)
BOARD OF GOVERNORS IN SUPERSESSION 
OF MEDICAL COUNCIL OF INDIA                 …APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
DR.   PRIYAMBADA   SHARMA   &   OTHERS                       …
RESPONDENT(S)
WITH
CIVIL APPEAL NO(s).                    OF 2022
(Arising out of SLP(C) No(s).24800 of 2019)
CIVIL APPEAL NO(s).                    OF 2022
(Arising out of SLP(C) No(s).24021 of 2019)
CIVIL APPEAL NO(s).                    OF 2022
(Arising out of SLP(C) No(s).24023 of 2019)
CIVIL APPEAL NO(s).                    OF 2022
(Arising out of SLP(C) No(s).24020 of 2019)
CIVIL APPEAL NO(s).                    OF 2022
1
(Arising out of SLP(C) No(s).27463 of 2019)
CIVIL APPEAL NO(s).                    OF 2022
(Arising out of SLP(C) No(s).26970 of 2019)
CIVIL APPEAL NO(s).                    OF 2022
(Arising out of SLP(C) No(s).7077 of 2021)
CIVIL APPEAL NO(s).                    OF 2022
(Arising out of SLP(C) No(s).7111 of 2021)
J U D G M E N T
Rastogi, J.
1. Leave granted.
2. The Board of Governors of Medical Council of India (now, “The
National Medical Commission”) has filed these appeals assailing
the judgment of the High Court of Calcutta directing respondent
no.2­West   Bengal   University   of   Health   Sciences   to   admit   the
respondent­candidates initially by interim orders dated 04th  June
2019, 16th July, 2019 and 30th July, 2019 passed by the learned
Single Judge of the High Court of Calcutta granting provisional
admission pursuant to interim orders to the student­applicants in
2
post­graduate medical courses beyond the cut­off date in complete
ignorance of their placement in the order of merit in post­graduate
medical courses, which were later disposed of by an Order dated
4
th  November, 2019 on the premise that since the respondentstudents   have   undergone   six   months   of   post­graduate   medical
course,   their   provisional   admission   stand   regularized   and   later
directed to be treated as a regular post­graduate student. 
3. Facts have been noticed from Civil Appeal @ SLP(C) Nos.3507­
3508 of 2020 and Civil Appeal @ SLP(C) No.27463 of 2019.
4.   It is not disputed that the respondent­students are MBBS
Doctors and appeared in NEET (PG)­2019 entrance examination
seeking admission in State quota seats in post­graduate medical
courses in medical colleges of the State of West Bengal for the
academic year 2019­2020.
5. The result of NEET­PG was declared by the National Board of
Education   (NBE)   on   31st  January,   2019.   The   minimum   cut­off
qualifying marks for NEET examination are as follows:­
1) Unreserved category ­ 50th percentile – 340/1200 marks
2) Reserved category(SC/ST/OBC)­40th percentile – 292/1200
marks
3
3) PwD – 45th percentile – 317/1200 marks
 The NEET marks and the rank of the respondent­students are
as under:­
1) Priyambada   Sharma­NEET   Score:386/1200;   NEET
Rank:57960
2) Priti Dhara ­ NEET Score:386/1200; NEET Rank:57948
3) Alankret   Dhillon   ­   NEET   Score:387/1200;   NEET
Rank:57581
4) Anirban Bose ­ NEET Score:318/1200; NEET Rank:78437
5) Mohd.   Asif   Kabir   ­   NEET   Score:341/1200;   NEET
Rank:71142
6) Kaustav De ­ NEET Score:626/1200; NEET Rank:24442
7) Sujan   Kr.   Ghosh   ­   NEET   Score:403/1200;   NEET
Rank:53324
8) Pushpak Ghose ­ NEET Score:626/1200; NEET Rank:12177
9) Sanjib   Kr.   Choudhary   ­   NEET   Score:319/1200;   NEET
Rank:78012
6. The   admission   schedule   for   the   academic   year   2018­19
onwards   for   post­graduate   courses   as   provided   in   the   Medical
Council   of   India   Postgraduate   Medical   Education   Regulations,
2000(hereinafter   being   referred   to   as   the   “Regulations   2000”)
amended upto May, 2018 is as follows:­
In  the  above  Appendix  the  time  schedule  with  regard  to  Broad
Speciality  has   been   substituted   with   the   following   in   terms   of
4
Notification published in the Gazette of India on 20.02.2018 and
05.04.2018.
Admission schedule from the academic year 2018­19 onwards for
Postgraduate courses (broad speciality):­
S.No Schedule   for
Admission
Central Counselling         State
Counsellin
g
All   India
Quota
Deemed   +
Central
Institute
1 Conduct of Exam By 10th January
2 Declaration   of
result
By end of January
3 1
st  Round   of
Counselling
12th March24th March
12th
March –
24th
March
25th
March –
5
th April
4 Last Date of joining 3
rd April 3
rd April 12th April
5 2
nd  Round   of
Counselling
6
th April –
12th April
6
th April –
12th April
15th April
– 26th
April
6 Last date of joining  22nd April 22nd April 3
rd May
7 Mop up Round  12th May –
22nd May
4
th May –
8
th May
8 Last date of joining  26th May 12th May
9 Forwarding the list
of students in order
of   merit   equalling
to   ten   times   the
number   of   vacant
seats   to   the
Medical Colleges by
the   Counselling
Authority 
27th May 13th May
10 Last date of joining 31st May 18th May
   Note:
1. All India Quota Seats remaining vacant after last date for joining
i.e. 10th May will be deemed to be converted into State Quota.
2. Institute/College/Courses permitted after 28th  February will not
be   considered   for   admission/allotment   of   seats   for   current
academic year.
5
3. In any circumstances, last date for admission/joining will not
be extended after 31st May.
4. For the purpose of ensuring faithful obedience to the above timeschedule, Saturday, Sunday or Holidays (except National Holiday)
shall be treated as working day.
5. The   following   Matrix   shall   be   applicable   with   regard   to
permissibility   to   students   to   exercise   fresh   choice   during
counselling:­
Round  Fre
Exit
Exit   with
forfeiture of
fees
Ineligible for
further
counselling
Amount   of
registration
fee
AIQ I/ 
Deemed
AIQ II/
Deemed
If   not
joine
d
If joined Government
­Rs.25,000
(half   for
SC/ST/OBC)
Deemed   –
Rs.2,00,000
State
Quota I
State 
Quota II
If   not
joine
d
If joined Government
­Rs.25,000
(half   for
SC/ST/OBC)
Private   –
Rs.2,00,000
State Quota
Mop­Up
Deemed 
Mop­Up
7. The admission schedule has to be rigidly followed in admission
to the post­graduate courses and Note 3 appended thereto clearly
stipulates   that,   in   any   circumstances,   last   date   for
admission/joining will not be extended beyond 31st  May and no
6
deviation   from   the   admission   schedule   is   permissible   and   this
schedule has been fixed by this Court pursuant to the judgment in
Mridul Dhar(Minor) and Another vs. Union of India and Others1
followed in Priya Gupta vs. State of Chhattisgarh and Others2
and Ashish Ranjan and Others vs. Union of India and Others3
.
8. It   will   be   relevant   to   note   that   this   Court   in  Mridul
Dhar(Minor)   and   Another   (supra)  noted   that   there   was   no
consistency in fixing the time schedule for admissions to medical
courses   and   there   were   much   irregularities   in   maintaining   a
prescribed schedule which has been exploited by medical colleges
by   admitting   undeserved   students   and   that   was   affecting   the
academic session. This Court intervened in the matter and fixed the
time schedule for admission to the medical colleges including postgraduate admissions and accordingly, the schedule was notified by
the   Medical   Council   of   India   and   direction   was   given   for   strict
adherence   of   rules   which   was   later   reiterated   in  Priya   Gupta
(supra) followed by Ashish Ranjan and Others(supra).
1 (2005) 2 SCC 65
2 (2012) 7 SCC 433
3 (2016) 11 SCC 225
7
9. This Court specifically gave its approval to the admission
schedule which has been prescribed under the broucher of Medical
Council of India (now, The National Medical Commission) for the
academic   year   2018­19   onwards   for   the   post­graduate   medical
courses   which   the   Commission   has   to   strictly   follow   and   no
deviation is permissible in any circumstances and accordingly last
date for admission/joining will not be extended after 31st May. 
10. It reveals from the record that after the admission/counselling
process   was   over   on   31st  May,   2019,   approximately   153   seats
remained vacant in State Quota of the post­graduate medical seats
for the academic year 2019­20 and the respondent­students have
failed in their attempt after participating in the last counselling in
securing admission to post­graduate medical seat in any of the
specialty because of their much lower rank in the order of merit. 
11. At this stage, the respondent Dr. Priyambada Sharma and
others filed their writ petitions before the High Court under Article
226 of the Constitution with the grievance that although the final
round of counselling on 31st May, 2019 is over, the post­graduate
seats for academic session 2019­20 are still available/lying vacant
8
and at least against the vacant seats, they may be considered for
admission in the post­graduate medical course.
12.  The learned Single Judge by interim orders dated 04th June,
2019,   16th  July,   2019   and   30th  July,   2019   in   a   batch   of   writ
petitions directed the appellant to grant provisional admissions to
the students in post­graduate medical courses by ignoring the cutoff date i.e. 31st  May and also ignoring the principle of merit and
these interim orders were later made absolute by order dated 04th
November, 2019 on the premise that the students have joined postgraduate medical courses and have undergone training/education
for   six   months   or   more   and   accordingly,   such   admissions   are
regularized   and   each   of   them   who   have   joined   post­graduate
medical course shall be treated as normal post­graduate student.
13.  These orders became a subject matter of challenge in special
leave petitions before this Court and the interim orders and also the
final order dated 04th  November, 2019 passed by the High Court
were stayed by this Court in the respective special leave petitions. It
is informed that so far as respondent Dr. Priyambada Sharma is
concerned, she has not continued her studies since September,
9
2019.   At the same time, in Civil Appeal @ SLP(C) No.27463 of
2019, respondent­students were allowed to pursue the course by
the University despite the stay order granted by this Court. 
14. Learned counsel for the appellant submits that the High Court
has   committed   manifest   error   in   directing   the   provisional
admissions   in   this   batch   of   appeals   in   post­graduate   medical
courses in the academic year 2019­20 beyond 31st  May and that
apart, the admission could not have been made on the principle of
first­cum­first­serve regardless of their placement in the order of
merit which is the touchstone for admissions to the post­graduate
medical courses. Such orders passed by the High Court are not
legally sustainable and deserve to be set aside.
15.  Learned counsel for the appellant further submits that merely
because some of the students have been allowed to be continued on
provisional basis in post­graduate medical courses despite the stay
order passed by this Court, no sympathy can be claimed by them
and such misplaced sympathy indeed will lay down a bad precedent
and   submits   that   all   such   interim   orders   and   the   provisional
admissions made of the respective respondents students in post10
graduate medical courses for the academic year 2019­20 deserve to
be quashed and set aside.
16. Learned   counsel   for   the   appellant   further   submits   that   in
numerous cases, petitions have been filed in this Court seeking
extension of time either on account of some particular exigency
faced by any individual college or university but generally on the
ground that large number of seats for post­graduate courses either
remained unfilled or are lying vacant and this Court has declined
such request with the direction that time schedule must be strictly
adhered to. 
17. On   the   other   hand,   learned   counsel   for   the   respondents
submits that either of the respondent­student was not at fault and
only because of the interim orders passed by the High Court in the
first instance, the University could not conduct the second round of
counselling within the time schedule and pursuant to the order of
the   Division   Bench   dated   30th  May   2019,   the   second   round   of
counselling was held on 31st  May, 2019 and on the same day,
admissions to post­graduate medical courses were closed.  Only to
meet out the aforesaid difficulty, interim orders were passed by the
11
High Court in the interest of justice.   In the first instance, the
respondent­students   are   deprived   from   participating   in   a   fair
manner in the second round of counselling which was held on 31st
May, 2019 and that was the reason for which the respondents
approached the High Court by filing the writ petitions and taking
the legitimate grievance of the students, interim orders were passed
granting provisional admissions to post­graduate medical courses
without disturbing the admissions already made and the students
have become the victims of delay in holding the second round of
counselling for the academic year 2019­20. 
18. Learned counsel for the respondents further submits that the
students were not at fault and any intervention made by the High
Court   while   passing   the   interim   orders   in   the   first   instance
interfering the admission process duly notified, in no manner, could
be attributed to the students but ultimately down the line, it is the
students who suffer and at least such of the students who have
completed their course or are at the verge of completing the course,
be   permitted   to   complete   the   course   and   to   appear   in   the
examination and if that is not being permitted in the given facts and
12
circumstances, they will only lose three precious years of their life
and neither the appellant nor anyone else is going to be benefitted. 
19. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and with their
assistance perused the material available on record.
20. That so far as the time schedule prescribed by the Medical
Council of India in its Regulations, 2000 of which reference has
been made for the academic year 2019­20 for admission to the
post­graduate medical courses is concerned, it has to be strictly
followed and that, in any circumstance, is not to be deviated.  Last
date for admissions to the post­graduate medical course will not be
extended after 31st May and the schedule has been prescribed in
compliance of the judgments of this Court of which reference has
been made in Mridul Dhar(Minor) and Another(supra) followed by
this   Court   in  Priya   Gupta   (supra)    and  Ashish   Ranjan   and
Others(supra)  and   this   Court   has   consistently   held   that   the
schedule for admission to the post­graduate medical courses must
be followed strictly leaving no discretion to any authority to permit
admissions over the cut­off date under schedule for admission to
post­graduate medical courses i.e. 31st May.
13
21. That even when the complaints are made to this Court that
large number of seats are lying vacant seeking extension of time to
fill   those   unfilled   undergraduate/post­graduate   seats   of   medical
courses, this Court always declined such requests and directed that
schedule must be strictly adhered to.
22. This Court in Education Promotion Society for India and
Another vs. Union of India and Others4 held as under:­
“6. In this case the petitioners want a general extension of time
not on account of any particular difficulty faced by any individual
college or university but generally on the ground that a large
number of seats for the PG courses are lying vacant. It is stated
that more than 1000 seats are lying vacant. In the affidavit filed
by the UoI it is mentioned that as far as deemed universities are
concerned   there   are   603   seats   lying   vacant.   However,   it   is
important to note that out of 603 seats lying vacant only 31 are
in clinical subjects and the vast majority (572) that is almost 95%
of the seats are lying vacant in non­clinical subjects. There is no
material on record to show as to what is the situation with regard
to the remaining 400­500 seats. This Court however can take
judicial notice of the fact that every year large number of nonclinical seats remain vacant because many graduate doctors do
not want to do postgraduation in non­clinical subjects. Merely
because the seats are lying vacant, in our view, is not a ground to
grant extension of time and grant further opportunity to fill up
vacant   seats.   The   schedule   must   be   followed.   If   we   permit
violation of schedule and grant extension, we shall be opening a
pandora's box and the whole purpose of fixing a time schedule
and laying down a regime which strictly adheres to time schedule
will be defeated.”
4 (2019) 7 SCC 38
14
23. Further,   this   Court   in  Dr.   Astha   Goel   and   Others   vs.
Medical Counselling Committee and Others5 held as under:­
“23. Applying the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid
two decisions to the facts of the case on hand and when the
Medical Counselling Committee and the Union of India have to
adhere to the time schedule for completing the admission process
and when the current admission of NEET­PG­2021 is already
behind time schedule and ever after conducting eight to nine
rounds of counselling, still some seats, which are mainly nonclinical courses seats have remained vacant and thereafter when
a   conscious   decision   is   taken   by   the   Union   Government/the
Medical Counselling Committee, not to conduct a further Special
Stray Round of counselling, it cannot be said that the same is
arbitrary. The decision of the Union Government and the Medical
Counselling   Committee   not   to   have   Special   Stray   Round   of
counselling is in the interest of Medical Education and Public
Health.  There cannot be any compromise with the merits and/or
quality of Medical Education, which may ultimately affect the
Public Health.
26. At the cost of repetition, it is observed and held that even
after eight to nine rounds of counselling, out of 40,000 seats,
1456 seats have remained vacant, out of which approximately,
more than 1100 seats are non­clinical seats, which every year
remain vacant, of which the judicial notice has been taken by
this   Court   in   the   case   of Education   Promotion   Society   for
India (supra).”
24. In the given facts and circumstances, in our considered view,
the interim orders passed by the High Court granting provisional
admissions in the post­graduate medical courses in the months of
June and July, 2019 by orders dated 04th  June, 2019, 16th  July,
5 2022 SCC OnLine SC 734
15
2019 and 30th  July, 2019 which were later made absolute by an
order dated 04th November, 2019 are not legally sustainable.
25. The feeble submission made by the respondents’ counsel that
a sympathetic view may be taken on the premise that they have
been allowed to continue in their respective post­graduate medical
courses for quite some time or few of them have completed the
course in the         interregnum despite the order of stay granted by
this Court and the reliance placed on the judgment of this Court in
Medical  Council of India vs. Ritwik & Others6
, in our view, may
not be of any assistance for the reason that it was a case where the
student was selected in the counselling in the first year MBBS
course but was not granted admission due to his inability to pay
the  fee before  the last  date i.e. 31st  August, 2018  and he  was
allowed to continue and pursue the course by interim order passed
by this Court.  In the given peculiar facts and circumstances, his
admission was approved under the order of this Court.  As far as
the   cases   of   present   respondents   are   concerned,   they   have
participated in the second round of counselling but failed to get any
6 2021 SCC OnLine SC 3280
16
seat in the post­graduate medical course because of lower rank in
order of merit and by interim orders passed by the High Court,
provisional admissions were granted to them ignoring the principle
of merit which cannot be countenanced by this Court.
26. In our considered view, no sympathy can be shown to such
students who have not only entered/admitted after 31st May of the
year but their admissions were completely in contravention to the
Regulations, 2000 and provisional admissions were granted by the
High   Court   ignoring   the   principle   of   merit   which   is   the   sole
touchstone for admission to the post­graduate courses based on the
NEET examination, 2019 where admissions are made strictly in the
order of merit­cum­preference and despite the stay order passed by
this Court, if they are allowed to continue in post­graduate medical
courses,   the   same   would   be   completely   illegal   and   such
contemptuous   action   on   the   part   of   the   authorities,   cannot   be
approved by this Court. 
27. Consequently,   the   appeals   succeed   and   are   accordingly
allowed. The impugned orders passed by the High Court in the
respective appeals are hereby quashed and set aside. No costs.
17
28. Pending application(s), if any, shall stand disposed of.
       …………………………….J.
(AJAY RASTOGI)
…………………………….J.
(C.T. RAVIKUMAR)
NEW DELHI;
OCTOBER 17, 2022
18

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