CHENNAI: Setting the stage for another round of litigation over post-graduate medical admissions, the Madras High Court on Friday struck down the counselling for post-graduation courses and asked it to prepare a fresh merit list within three days to conduct the counselling again.
The hard hitting order, passed by a bench consisting of justices Rajiv Shakdher and R Suresh Kumar, said the State government had arbitrarily classified areas as “remote or difficult” to favour government doctors in getting the chunk of the post graduation seats in government and private colleges. Soon after the verdict was pronounced, the health minister C Vijaya Basker said the State would appeal against the high court verdict in the Supreme Court.
Counselling for PG courses was held last month after two rounds of litigation in the high court, which ruled that the counselling should be conducted only as per the rules of Medical Council of India and the State cannot have its own set of rules awarding incentive marks to all doctors who served in government hospitals. However, then the court gave freedom for the state to define which all areas would fall under “remote or difficult” category and incentive marks may be granted only to those doctors who served in government hospitals in these areas.
The high court on Friday did not mince words when it highlighted how the State had arbitrarily included areas as “remote or difficult” to ensure they get the incentive marks and hence they secure nearly all of the post graduation seats. “For example, in the District of Nilgiris, the District Headquarters Hospital, located at Uthagamandalam (Ooty), cannot be described as remote and/or difficult area by any stretch of imagination. One can take judicial notice of the fact that Ooty is a hilly destination, which has all the facilities of a township, and is easily accessible by road,” the order said.
Trashing another argument of the State that Thanjavur, Nagapattinam and Ramanathapuram are classified as a difficult area since they were affected by the Tsunami, the court said the natural calamity struck these places way back in 2004.
While regulations of Medical Council of India granted complete freedom to the States in classifying remote and difficult areas, the court said the State had not followed any criterion in doing so. The order noted that the arbitrary selection of areas as remote and difficult has led to the government doctors taking away almost the entire PG medical seats. While 700 government doctors got selected for the PG degree courses in government colleges, just 34 non-service candidates got selected.
Pointing that out of 383 students from Tamil Nadu who joined under the All India Quota, only eight were in-service candidates, the court said, “We have, quite clearly, a number of meritorious candidates have opted for the All India Quota, as they have been denied their chosen speciality, on account of award of weightage to in-service candidates.”
Highlighting the SC orders detailing how “remote and difficult” areas must be identified, the order directed the State to reconfigure the merit list within three days.