New Delhi, June 23: The Supreme Court today asked the Central Government Health Services to go ahead with counselling students seeking admission in medical colleges across the country.
Justices R.C. Lahoti and Brijesh Kumar passed the order on an application by the Centre, which challenged the Maharashtra government’s withdrawal of the 15 per cent all-India quota in its medical colleges for this year. Maharashtra, one of the few states to have abolished the quota, passed a legislation to do so.
The vacation bench listed the Centre’s challenge for hearing in the first week of July. In the “meanwhile”, it directed the health services to start counselling the candidates for MBBS and BDS courses. The court gave the state two weeks to file its reply.
The controversy reached the apex court following the Centre’s petition that said no state government could, through a legislation or a government order, abolish the all-India quota fixed by the Supreme Court.
Seventeen years ago, in the Mandal case, the apex court had said reservation in any form should not exceed 50 per cent.
As for medical colleges, it had ordered that every state government should fix 15 per cent seats for students from all over India who would take the common entrance test and apply in various medical colleges.
The counsel for Maharashtra argued that the ruling of the Supreme Court on minority institutions had resulted in shortage of seats in medical colleges for students of the state, thereby warranting the need for a legislation to abolish the quota.
In the order on minority institutions, the 11-judge Constitution bench had ruled that unaided private colleges could not be imposed with a certain percentage of seats by any state government.
Maharashtra’s counsel argued that because of this ruling, the state, which has to provide seats for its own students in professional colleges, cannot comply with the apex court’s order on keeping aside seats in medical colleges for students from outside the state.
The counsel for the Centre, additional solicitor general Raju Ramachandran, countered this argument, saying that the all-India quota cannot be withdrawn by a state government on its own without a judicial mandate from the Supreme Court.