NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition by a society of deemed universities seeking direction to extend the deadline of May 31 to fill up 603 vacant seats in Post Graduate (PG) medical and dental courses across the country.
The petition was filed by the Education Promotion Society of India, a registered group of 1,354 educational institutions.
A total of 4,561 PG seats were available in the academic session 2019-20. A total of 31 clinical and 572 non-clinical seats were vacant.
A bench comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant did not see any merit in the petition, which sought extension of the deadline for counselling for stray vacancy round to fill up seats which remained vacant despite the final round.
On Thursday, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) had opposed the petition referring to it as a dangerous application having serious implication. If extension was given, then it would set a bad precedent.
"It would also dilute the object of having cut-off dates for admission and would affect all states," said the DGHS, represented by Additional Solicitor General Vikramjeet Banerjee.
The court observed that though it had the power to extend the deadline, the larger question was should it do so.
The court orally said: "The Supreme Court power has to be excercised in a manner which does not make the previous orders nugatory." Later, the court reserved the order on the issue.
Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the petitioner, contended that all admissions would be made through the merit list of NEET PG, who are on the waiting list, and the court can allocate a reasonable time of one week to complete the process.
The court replied that it was well aware that the matter concerned lives of many people, and universities had made huge investments.
The DGHS counsel argued that the sacrosanct nature of the counselling dates should not be disturbed at any cost.
"It is a dangerous plea. Once it is allowed, the sanctity of the cut-off date will be gone," the counsel submitted in the court.
The petitioner cited many universities where seats were vacant -- 11 per cent seats in Kaher's J.N. Medical College, Belagavi, and 28 per cent in K.S. Hegde Medical Academy, Mangaluru, were available for filling up.
The DGHS cited the order passed by the top court in the Ashish Ranjan case in 2016 where the court approved the schedule of PG medical and dental courses.