Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association &Ors. v. UOI &Ors (2020) - Reservation of In-Service Candidates in Post-Graduation Medical Courses


Court :
Supreme Court of India

Brief :
While answering the moot question whether the State can provide reservation to in- service candidates in Post Graduate Medical Courses the Supreme Court has observed that Article 21 of the constitution of India imposes an obligation on the State to safeguard the life of every person which means preservation of life should be of paramount importance.Thus while mentioning the case of Municipal corporation, Ratlam v. Vardichandand as quoted by J. Krishna Iyer, “The State will realize that Article 47 makes it a paramount principle of governance that steps are taken for the improvement of public health as amongst its primary duties".

Citation :
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. : 196 Of 2018

  • JUDGMENT SUMMARY: Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association &Others. V. U.O.I &Others.
  • DATE OF JUDGEMENT: 31st August, 2020
  • COURT: The Supreme Court of India
  • JUDGES: Justice Arun Mishra, Justice Indira Banerjee, Justice Vineet Saran, Justice M.R Shah, Justice Aniruddha Bose.
  • WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. : 196 Of 2018
  • PARTIES: Tamil Nadu MedicalOfficersAssociationand OrsPetitioner(s)
  • Union Of India and Ors. Respondent(s)

SUBJECT

The Petitioners in this case had challenged the regulations 9 (4) and (8) of the MCIPost Graduate Medical Education Regulations 2000 as framed by the Medical Council of India.

AN OVERVIEW

1. There were altogether 17 main proceedings which were before the Hon'ble Court involving a common question of law that whether under the scheme of our constitution and the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000 made by the MCI under Section 33 of IMC Act 1956, a State has power to reserve seats for admissions in Post Graduate Medical Degree Courses for medical professionals working in governmental organizations within the State. Such medical professionals are hereinafter referred to as in the judgement as ‘in-service doctors’.

2. The present case had come up before a 3 judge bench of Supreme Court for hearing but the bench was of the opinion that the present case requires consideration by a larger bench. Thus a five judge constitutional bench of Supreme Court was formed to hear the present case.

3. The submissions on behalf of the Petitioners for conversion of seats from post Graduate diploma course into seats of post Graduate Degree Course is submitted before the larger bench and thus this was a separate issue and separate cause of action has been sought to be clubbed in the present petition.

4. The constitutional bench of Supreme Court found and were of the opinion that the Judgement and order passed by the Calcutta High Court and the allied appeals were not found on proper interpretation of law and thus was set aside.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

1. ( Union List ) Entry 66 Of List I–“Co ordination and determination of standardsin institutions of higher education or research andscientific and technical institutions.”

2. ( Concurrent List ) Entry 25 Of List III –“Education including technical education, medical education and universities subject to the provisions of Entries 63, 64, 65 and 66 of List I ; vocational and technical training in labour.”

3. Regulation 9 of MCI - Procedure for selection of candidates for Post Graduate Courses.

• Articles

4. Article 21–Protection of life and Personal liberty (Right to Health important facet under Article 21)

5. Article 47 – Directive Principles of State Policy which directs the State to raise the level of nutrition and standard of living and to improve public health among other things.

ISSUES

1. Whether the States can provide reservation to in – service candidates in Post Graduate Medical Courses.

2. Whether the Medical Council of India has the power to make any provision for in – service medical officers in respect of post Graduate Medical Courses in medical colleges.

ANALYSIS OF THE JUDGEMENT

1. While answering the moot question whether the State can provide reservation to in- service candidates in Post Graduate Medical Courses the Supreme Court has observed that Article 21 of the constitution of India imposes an obligation on the State to safeguard the life of every person which means preservation of life should be of paramount importance.Thus while mentioning the case of Municipal corporation, Ratlam v. Vardichandand as quoted by J. Krishna Iyer, “The State will realize that Article 47 makes it a paramount principle of governance that steps are taken for the improvement of public health as amongst its primary duties".

2. The Court clearly pointed out that the State has the right to provide reservation and the action of the State to provide for in-service quota is in the discharge of its positive constitutional obligations to promote and provide better health care facilities for its citizens by upgrading the qualifications of in-service doctors. Also such action is in discharge of its constitutional obligations as provided under Article 47.Even otherwise, the power of the State under Entry 6, List II of Schedule VII to legislate in the subject matter of public health and hospital is exclusive.

3. The learned counsel which appeared on behalf of Medical Council of India contended the following submissions against the power of the state to make reservations of seats for in- service candidates in post Graduate degree courses and also in favour of validity of the Regulation 9 of MCI regulations, 2000.However the court pointed out that Regulation 9 contains no specific clause or expression which would indicate that the field of making reservations for in service doctors in the postgraduate degree courses has been covered. Hence, Regulation 9 is not complete and exhaustive code. The court furthercontended that the Regulation 9 of MCI, 2000 can be declared as ultra vires, on the ground of being arbitrary, discriminatory and violativeof Articles 14 and 21 of the constitution of India to the extent of other providing for any reservation for in-service doctors working in rural, tribal and difficult areas.

4. The court also states that when the State provides a separate source of admission to in-service doctors as a distinct class and within the State quota and the object is laudable, the State is within its powers to provide such separate source of admission in exercise of its powers under Entry 25, List III, read with Entry 6 List II. And as there is no conflict between the powers of the State and Union. Therefore the State is within its powers and is empowered to make reservations in the seats of post Graduate Medical Courses more particularly for in-service doctors.

5. The 5 judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court held that the Medical Council of India (MCI) has no power to make any provision for reservation of in-service medical officers in respect of post Graduate Degree Courses in Medical Colleges.

CONCLUSION

The Right to Health is an integral part of right to life and an important facet under Article 21. In the following case the Hon’ble Court keeping in view of providing better health care facilities in rural, tribal and difficult areas has put forth an interpretation which is in furtherance of achieving the ultimate object. As it is a settled proposition of law that in case of two entries overlapping any interpretation which would negate the other entry is to be avoided. Thus as there must be harmony between the two entries the Hon’ble Court in the present case observed that there shall not be any conflict between the power of the Union and that of the State while exercising the powers under Entry 66, List I by the Union and Entry 25, List III by the States. It had come to the court's notice that earlier also the States did provide reservation for in-service government medical officers/ doctors. However due to the misinterpretation of the MCI Regulations, 2000 the problems have arisen.

To download the original copy of the judgment: Click Here

 

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JINALI SHAH
on 08 January 2021
Published in Others
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