The Madras High Court yesterday ruled that MCI regulations alone should be applied in the selection and grant of incentive marks to in-service government doctors for admission to postgraduate medical courses in Tamil Nadu. Settling the matter after a two-judge bench gave a split verdict on the issue on May 3, Justice M Sathyanarayanan in his order said it was mandatory to select and award marks to the candidates of PG medical courses as per Regulation 9 of the Medical Council of India Rules 2000. He rejected the plea of petitioners for following the state government norms as specified in the PG medical admissions prospectus for 2017-18.
He, however, said the MCI regulation allowed the state to identify the remote and difficult areas for award of incentive marks.
The matter relates to reservation of seats and awarding of incentive marks to doctors in government service. The appeals were filed against the April 17 order of a single judge Bench order, upholding the MCI norms that incentive marks for in-service candidates should be awarded only as per the MCI's Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations 2000 and not on the basis of the state government's norms.
As per the state's norms, all doctors in government service were eligible for one mark per year of the service with a cap of 10 marks, while those employed in four notified difficult and remote or hilly areas were eligible for two marks per year of the service.
But MCI rules earmarked 10 per cent of an in-service candidate's National Eligibility Entrance Test PG mark as incentive per year of service with a maximum of 30 per cent.
The division bench which earlier heard the appeals gave a split verdict with one judge holding that the state's methodology for giving incentive marks to in-service candidates was 'not in conflict' with MCI's, while the other judge quashed some of the state government norms on the issue, terming them as "inconsistent and repugnant" to the MCI 2000 regulations.
Justice K K Sasidharan of the bench had said the state government's giving weightage marks to the in-service candidates was not in conflict with the MCI norms.
The other judge on the bench, Justice S M Subramanian, however, in a separate order quashed some clauses of the admission prospectus issued by the government, terming them as "inconsistent, repugnant to Regulation of the Post Graduate Medical Regulation rules 2000" issued by the MCI.
Observing that the prayer in the petition could be moulded and the government may be asked to sync its admission policy with that of MCI, Justice Subramanian directed the state government to formulate the procedure for admission process in accordance with the MCI 9 and 9(IV) regulations.
Justice Sathyanarayanan, who had reserved orders
day before yesterday on the matter, confirmed the order of Justice Subramaniam and said the directions given by the latter were in consonance with the settled legal position, except with regard to identification of hilly and remote/difficult areas.
He refused to accept contentions on behalf of in-service candidates that the Government Order, based on which the PG admissions prospectus came to be formulated and issued was having a force of law.
He also rejected the argument that the state government under Entry 25 of Concurrent List is entitled to prescribe guidelines for admission of students in PG medical courses.
The state GO cannot be equated with law or Legislation and therefore, the question of repugnancy between the prospectus and the statutory provisions and subordinate Legislations in the Indian Medical Council (IMC) Act, 1956, does not arise at all for consideration, he said.
Referring to the Supreme Court's judgments, the judge said the apex court had given a categorical finding on the primacy of the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulation, 2000, more particularly, Regulation 9 of MCI.
Stating that as per the Supreme Court's decision Regulation 9 was a complete code, the judge said, "It prescribes basis for determining the eligibilities of the candidates including the method to be adopted for determining inter-se merit on the basis of one merit list of candidates appearing in NEET including by giving commensurate weightage marks to the in-service candidates."
The judge accepted the arguments of MCI's senior counsel Vijay Narain that despite repeated pronouncements by the apex court on primacy of MCI in respect of medical education, some state governments had chosen to ignore it and framed their own guidelines in total contravention and violation of the mandatory statutory regulations framed under the IMC Act.
Stating that the state had ignored statutory rules and sought to justify their stand on the ground of sentiments and sympathy, the Judge said it alone was to be blamed for the present piquant situation.
Justice Satyanarayanan, however, said Proviso 9(4) of the MCI Regulation gave discretion to the state government to define remote and difficult areas and to that extent the said identification for the academic session 2017-18 warrants no interference.
He directed the government to strictly follow and implement Regulation 9 and more particularly, Regulation 9[IV] and proviso therein and ensure full compliance.
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