No hike in medical seats by interim orders: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has ruled that courts cannot increase seats in medical colleges through interim orders as the power to hike the number of seats is vested with the Medical Council of India`s (MCI) Board of Governors alone.

A bench of Justices H L Dattu and C K Prasad, in a judgement, said any such order by courts will have a disastrous effect on the rule of law as it amounts to conferring legal sanctity to unrecognised seats held by colleges.

"We cannot imagine anything more destructive of the rule of law than a direction by the court to allow continuance of such students (on unrecognised seats), whose admissions is found illegal in the ultimate analysis," Justice Prasad said in his judgement.

"By virtue of such order students are admitted as in the present case and though many of them had taken the risk knowingly, but few may be ignorant. In most of such cases when finally the issue is decided against the college, the welfare and plight of the students are ultimately projected to arouse sympathy of the court.

"It results in very awkward and difficult situation. If, on ultimate analysis, it is found that the college`s claim for increase of seats is untenable, in such an event the admission of students with reference to the increased seats shall be illegal," the court said.

The apex court passed the ruling upholding MCI`s appeal challenging a Karnataka High Court`s direction permitting JSS Medical College, to increase its MBBS course seats from 150 to 200 for the academic year 2011-2012. (More) PTI RB RAX

The MCI`s Board of Governors had earlier rejected the plea for increase of seats as the infrastructure facilities, clinical material and faculty were inadequate. It also found deficiency in equipments and other deficiencies as pointed out in the assessment report of the board.

The apex court said in normal circumstances the high court should not issue interim orders granting permission for increase of the seats as it has "a cascading effect."

"This Court is entrusted with the task to administer law and uphold its majesty. Courts cannot by its fiat increase the seats, a task entrusted to the Board of Governors and that too by interim order.

"We are of the opinion that the interim order passed by the High Court is unsustainable. Any observation made by us in this judgement is for disposal of the present appeal and shall have no bearing on the merits of the case.

"Further, as the matter pertains to increase in seats in educational institution, we deem it expedient that the High Court considers and disposes of the case on merit expeditiously," the bench added.