A Division Bench of the Bombay High Court consisting of Justice Milind N. Jadhav and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan, in the case of Maharashtra Medical Education & Research Centre & other v. State of Maharashtra & Ors., held that the colleges that conducted their entrance exams before the Supreme Court judgment Medical Council of India v. Christian Medical College are valid in law.
Brief Facts of the Case
This case has been a subject of many decisions by the High Court. The petitioner 2, a minority unaided college managed by petitioner 1, started offering a bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy in the academic year 2004-05 and a master’s degree in physiotherapy from 2010-11. Till the year 2015-16, the petitioner conducted their own entrance exams. For the academic year 2015-16, the petitioner applied to Medical Education, Maharashtra (Respondent 3) to conduct its own entrance exam, which was rejected by the authority. This lead to the subsequent filings before the Court:
- Writ Petition No. 5107 of 2015: Bombay HC rejected the decision of the authority and allowed the petitioner to conduct their own entrance exam. Before the decision, the respondent promulgated an ordinance, which subsequently became an act: Maharashtra Unaided Private Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admissions and Fees) Act, 2015 for the regulation of admission & fees in unaided colleges. The Court held that the petitioner can conduct its own exam for the year 2015-16, and the act shall be applicable from the next academic year.
- Civil Application (Decided on 29th March 2016): After conducting the entrance exam and declaring the merit list, the petitioner filed requisite formalities with the concerned authorities. Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, Nashik (Respondent 4), didn’t accept the eligibility proposal of the selected students on the grounds that it wasn’t made a party to the case, the copy of the order was not served, and there was no direction for the registration of selected students. The Court rejected the arguments of Respondent 4 and ordered them to follow requisite formalities to admit the students.
The issue in the present case is that after the decision on 29th March 2016, the Respondent 4 stated in a letter to the petitioner that the admission of the students is temporary and subject to the final outcome of the Apex Court. Moreover, Respondent 4 provided information containing the list of colleges in which admissions are pending, and the petitioner’s name was on the list.
The counsel for the petitioner submitted the following arguments:
- The Court has already issued directions to Respondent 4 in its previous orders to accept the synopsis and admission of the students. Therefore no ground of withholding admission arises.
- Bombay HC in its division bench judgment A. Inamdar v. the State of Maharashtra decided on 11th October 2018, was faced with similar facts and was decided against the respondents. Identical relief should be granted in the present case as well.
- The present issue is not Res Integra and was already dealt by the Court in A. Inamdar case.
The counsel for the respondent submitted the following arguments:
- The Prayer made in this case is omnibus as the relief sought by the petitioners, including granting of internship certificate and degree certificate to the admitted students, is subject to the completion of the said course.
- Without completion of the said internship and course, the respondent cannot grant the required certificates.
- Some clarity has to be provided in A. Inamdar’s case along with certain other judgments of the Supreme Court.
- In A. Inamdar case, the petitioner was an unaided minority college that filed an application before the authority to conduct entrance exams for their dental course for the academic year 2013-14, which was rejected on the ground that for the academic year 2013-14, the Dental Council of India issued some regulations according to which the admission for dental colleges shall be done through National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) exam. This was challenged in Supreme Court and in the case of Christian Medical College v. Union of India (2014) 2 SCC 305, where the Court held that such regulations are unconstitutional and allowed all the institutions to conduct their own entrance exam.
- This case was reviewed, and in Medical Council of India v. Christian Medical College, (2016) 4 SCC 342, the Court reversed its previous judgment. So the basic question before the Bombay High Court in A. Inamdar’s case was whether the entrance exam held by the institution for the academic year 2013-14 after Christian Medical Council judgment is invalid? The Court held that it’s not invalid as, till the time the judgment was not reversed, it was a binding precedent.
- In the present case, taking the support of P.A. Inamdar case, the court observed:
“22. The students, 30 for undergraduate and 1 for postgraduate, were admitted to their respective courses following the entrance test and admission process undertaken by petitioner No.2 on the strength of the order of this Court. Subsequently, on further orders of this Court, they were allowed to appear in the respective examinations and their results were directed to be declared. Having gone through the entire exercise on orders of this Court, it is now not open to respondent Nos.3 and 4 to question admission of those students. As already pointed out, no affidavit has been filed. Even in their respective submissions, learned counsel for respondent Nos.3 and 4 did not assail or question the entrance test and the consequential admission process on merit.”
Since the entrance exam conducted by the petitioner falls in the time before the judgment of SC in its review case, the college’s entrance exam is valid in law. Hence. the respondent can by no means withhold the admission of the students.
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