Lakhs of students in the country work hard and toil to secure admissions in educational institutions on the basis of merit and it is high time that backdoor entries there, including in medical colleges, should stop, the Delhi High Court has said.
The high court's observation came while dismissing an appeal by five students who were granted admission in 2016 by L N Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, Bhopal, without their undergoing the centralised counselling conducted by the Department of Medical Education (DME).
However, according to the Supreme Court's direction, admissions in all government and private medical colleges in the country have to be done through the centralised counselling system on the basis of NEET examination result.
Consequently, the Medical Council of India (MCI) issued letters of discharge regarding the five petitioners in April 2017 and thereafter, several more communications were sent but neither the students nor the medical college paid any heed to them.
The college continued to treat the petitioners as their students and allowed them to attend the course, appear in the examinations and get promoted.
Eventually, the five petitioners filed a petition seeking quashing of the discharge communications issued by the MCI and for direction that they be permitted to continue their studies in the medical college as regular medical students, which was dismissed by the single judge.
They filed an appeal challenging the single judge's order. However, a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh also dismissed the appeal saying there is no merit in it.
"It is high time that such backdoor entries in educational institutions, including medical colleges, should stop. Lakhs of students all over the country work hard and toil to secure admissions to educational institutions on the basis of their merit," the bench said in its order on September 9.
"To permit any backdoor entry to any educational institution would be grossly unfair to those who are denied admission, despite being more meritorious, on account of the seats being taken and blocked by such backdoor entrants," it said.
It further added that the petitioners have only themselves to blame for the mess that they find themselves in.
"Had they acted in terms of the discharge letter of April 26, 2017, they would have saved four years of their lives. But they did not, and acted recklessly. Despite not having any interim orders in their favour in their writ petition, they continued to attend the course -- obviously, at their own peril," the court said.
Advocate T Singhdev, representing the MCI, said despite discharge of the petitioners by the MCI, as early as on April 26, 2017, the same was not acted upon either by the college or by the students and they continued to ignore it even after repeated communications.
He further said that there was no interim order obtained by the petitioners from the court and despite that they continued to take admissions in subsequent years and undertake examinations at the college which was done at their own peril and they cannot claim equity in their favour.
Singhdev said the petitioners did not undergo the centralised counselling and they were well aware from day one that their admissions in the college were irregular and illegal, being in the teeth of the judgement of the Supreme Court.
The counsel for the petitioners contended that they ranked higher in the NEET examination than even those who were granted admission through the central counselling conducted by the DME in relation to this medical college and, therefore, they should be shown leniency.
The court said it is for this reason that if the medical college had informed the vacancy position to the DME on time, the DME would have conducted further counselling and sent names on merit on the basis of the NEET examination conducted in 2016.
"It is quite possible that the names of other candidates, more meritorious than the five petitioners, may have been sent," the bench said.
"Since the respondent medical college does not appear to have informed the DME of the vacancy position, and they proceeded to grant admissions to the five petitioners much before the close of the date of admission on October 7, 2016, the other meritorious students, obviously, remained unaware that they could stake a claim against a seat in the respondent medical college on the basis of their merit. Thus, to say that no other meritorious candidate has shown up, is neither here nor there," it added.