KOCHI: The Kerala High Court has stayed the government order taking away the right of religious heads to issue community certificates for candidates seeking admission to minority quota seats in MBBS and BDS courses in minority-owned self-financing medical colleges. The government had entrusted the right with the Revenue authorities. The court also asked the state government to file an affidavit within four weeks. It also extended the time stipulated for submitting community certificates till August 14.The court passed the interim order on a batch of petitions filed by minority medical colleges, including Thrissur Jubilee Mission Medical College, Amala Medical college and Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Medical College, Kolencherry, challenging the government order.
According to the petitioners, the Supreme Court had recognised the rights of the minority institutions to prescribe conditions with regard to the community status and other credentials for giving admission. Several rounds of discussions were held with the Commissioner for Entrance Examinations and Director of Medical Education on seat matrix. The government later approved the seat matrix, which virtually accepted the authority of the religious heads to issue community certificate for granting admission.The petitioners said the government issued an order on August 3, 2017, entrusting the power to issue community certificate with the Revenue authorities. However, unlike the order in respect of medical/dental admission, the circulars issued by the Entrance Commissioner in respect of admission to engineering and pharmacy courses recognised the authority of the religious head to issued community certificates. No reason was given for this kind of differential treatment, they said.
The government pleader had earlier submitted he was informed by the officer concerned the order was withdrawn. However, when the matter was taken up for consideration on the last posting day, the government pleader submitted despite the oral instructions, the government order still “stands as it is”.
The court observed the circumstances under which wrong instruction was given over phone should be probed. The court also said similar instruction was given by the very same officer in some other cases regarding the existence of a new ordinance. The court asked the government to conduct an inquiry and take appropriate steps if there was any delinquency on the part of the officer. The court expressed doubt regarding the competency of the Revenue authorities to issue community certificate, particularly as to the various sub-classes in the Christian/Muslim communities and as to the machinery the Revenue authorities put in place to certify it.
The government pleader failed to explain the machinery. No material was produced as to how the community status of the various sub-classes could be identified by the Revenue authorities of particular villages or a taluk, especially when such persons claiming community status may be coming even from outside the state. The government failed to explain how such certificates could be issued by the Revenue authorities in such a short span of time after making inquiries.The court prima facie held the government had taken the hasty steps without application of mind and in a cursory and casual manner. The validity of the order would be considered and decided in due course.