The Supreme Court Tuesday declined any interim relief to a government doctors’ association and said the Tamil Nadu government will have to grant admission in post-graduate medical courses to in-service doctors as per amended regulations of the Medical Council of India.

Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association and others have assailed two amended provisions of MCI’s Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, which provide the criteria for granting quota or incentive marks to government doctors, either serving or have served in rural or remote areas, in admissions to PG courses. It was submitted that instead of granting incentive marks to government doctors, serving in remote and difficult rural areas, in PG admissions, the state government should be allowed to continue with its own quota policy.

“We are unable to accede to the request,” a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said. The bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, said the counselling process for admissions in PG courses would go on as per the MCI regulations and its final verdict will decide the fate of admisisons. Earlier, the court had reserved its interim order on a batch of petitions challenging the MCI’s regulations dealing with reservation to in-service candidates in admission to the PG medical courses in respect of 50 per cent seats allocated to states.

The doctors’ association of Tamil Nadu had assailed Regulation 9(IV), which says the reservation of seats in medical colleges for respective categories in PG courses shall be as per applicable laws of the states and UTs and an all-India and state-wise merit list of the eligible candidates shall be prepared on the basis of marks obtained by them in National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).

The regulation provided that doctors in government service may be given weightage as an incentive of up to 10 per cent of the marks obtained for each year of service in “remote and/or difficult areas or rural areas upto maximum of 30 per cent” of the marks obtained in NEET.

Regulation VIII, however, provides for 50 per cent reservation in seats in PG Diploma courses for government doctors. The doctors association had alleged that though 50 per cent quota for in-service doctors are allowed in diploma courses, the system of grant of incentive marks is adopted for granting admissions in PG courses.

They alleged that the power of “the coordination and determination of standards in institutions for higher education” falls in the Union List and the fact that “medical education” comes under Concurrent List implies that states are not denuded of powers to legislate on the manner and method for admissions to PG medical courses.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar, representing Tamil Nadu doctors’s body, had referred to judgements and constitutional schemes and said that a state was empowered to devise mechanism to allocate 50 per cent of its seats to candidates.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for MCI, had said the state cannot be allowed to “lower” the standard of selection of candidates by flouting the MCI regulations. He had sought to distinguish between the PG diploma courses and the PG courses and submitted that there was no need to pass any interim order. Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, representing the Centre, had said the issue fell under “exclusive domain” of the Union and the state cannot legislate on it. Few days ago, a three judge bench headed by Justice Kurian Joseph had referred to a constitution bench the pleas, challenging the MCI regulations.

NEET conducts examination for admissions in Medical PG courses and 50 per cent seats are filled by the Centre and 50 per cent seats are filled by the states which may give incentive marks up to 30 per cent to government doctors who are serving in rural and remote areas. Tamil Nadu and some states are seeking autonomy to decide the manner in which they would fill up their 50 per cent seats by devising norms on quota and challenge the MCI regulations to that effect.

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