Allow reshuffling of medical seats, SC directs Maharashtra govt

A day after scrapping the 10% economically weaker section (EWS) quota for post-graduate (PG) medical and dental admissions in the state for this year, the Supreme Court (SC) directed the state to allow “reshuffling” of admissions.

A vacation bench of justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna on Friday struck down the state’s decision to keep the admissions on non-EWS seats intact, while making fresh allotments on erstwhile EWS seats by converting them to open category. The court observed the decision contradicts the interim order passed by the Apex Court on Thursday. The court also decided to extend the deadline for the admission process from May 31 to June 4, to allow the state to complete the process.

The SC was hearing an application, filed by three open category candidates, one from Latur and two from the city, seeking a fresh admission process. “We will issue contempt proceedings against the commissioner and competent authority of the state CET Cell and other officers. You [state] are virtually overriding the interim order passed by this court [on May 30],” said the bench, visibly irked with the obstinate stand taken by the state.

The candidates believe the court’s judgment allows all candidates, who have already been allotted seats, to claim 143 erstwhile EWS quota seats that fell vacant after admissions to these seats were cancelled by the state CET cell following the SC’s interim order. “Earlier, we couldn’t apply for the seats reserved for EWS. While the SC scrapped the EWS quota, the CET cell’s decision meant that those seats were still out of bounds for us. We can now seek betterment on these seats,” said Dr Asif Patel, a candidate from Latur.

However, the state CET cell that there won’t be any fresh option-form filling process for candidates. The cell also clarified that only those candidates, who have not confirmed their allotted seats yet, along with the candidates who are yet to be allotted a seat and those whose admissions were cancelled after the interim SC verdict, will be eligible for the vacant seats.

“The court order merely asks us to reshuffle admissions for open category students. It doesn’t require us to redo the entire process, which usually takes a month. We don’t have time to carry out option form-filling process,” said Anand Rayate, commissioner, CET cell.

However, the candidates said if the cell doesn’t allow them to fill the option form process afresh, it will amount to contempt of court. “The court had accepted our plea for re-counselling,” said Govind Jee, a counsel for the petitioners.

In the SC, counsels for the candidates said the cell should have conducted fresh counselling process for all candidates and allotted seats according to merit. “My clients were not in a position to get desired seats, which are now available to them,” said Jee.

On the other hand, Nishant Katneshwarkar, who appeared for the Maharashtra government, said the cell’s decision is justified as there was little time left for the admission process and it wasn’t possible for the government to reshuffle the admissions. He also said there was no mala-fide intention behind the decision.

With the SC’s Friday ruling, the state is in a catch-22 situation.

“After the fresh ruling, we have cancelled medical admissions of all postgraduate students who have got admission either in economically weaker section (EWS) category or open category on EWS seats. We have also started the admission process for these seats with immediate effect. The government has to complete the admission process by June 4, as the apex court has refused to extend the deadline for completing the process till June 8,” said state medical education minister Girish Mahajan.

“We are deliberating on what can be done for the affected students. However, those who have merit can also get admission in the open category. Of the 110 students (who got admission under EWS quota), around 50 students will have to bear the consequences, while the rest are likely to get the admissions based on merit.”

“Admissions of the students have been cancelled following the Apex Court’s decision. We are still looking for remedies that can provide relief to the students. As EWS quota is a Centre law, we have no authority to make any amendment,” said a senior official from the general administration department.

First Published:
Jun 01, 2019 00:29 IST

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