SC: Imposing a Condition of Domicile for Admission to MD, MS & Post-Grad Diploma Seats is Invalid & Unconstitutional

The Supreme Court on 4th March, 2018 declared Clause 4 of the Information Bulletin jointly issued by Directorate of Medical Education, Government of Karnataka and Karnataka Examinations Authority, Government of Karnataka as Invalid because it was found ultra vires to Article 14 of The Indian Constitution. This decision was given by the bench of Hon’ble Justices Arun Mishra and U.U.Lalit in the case of Dr. Kriti Lakhina and Others V. State of Karnataka and Others [ WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.204 OF 2018].
This petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India was filed by 44 Doctors who did their MBBS/BDS Courses from State of Karnataka and have cleared the NEET-PG, 2018 examination with high merit position and are aspiring for admission to Post-Graduate Courses in Karnataka.
The petitioners in their petition submitted that this Information Bulletin issued by Respondents, to the extent Clause 4.1 thereof imposes a condition of domicile for admission to MD, MS and Post-Graduate Diploma seats in State of Karnataka is invalid and unconstitutional. According to the petitioners said Clause 4.1 arbitrarily and illegally deprived the petitioners who had obtained MBBS/BDS Degrees from the Colleges situated in Karnataka from competing for admission to Post-Graduate Medical/Dental Courses in Government Medical Colleges and against Government quota seats in non-Governmental institutions. Reliance was also placed on the Judgment of this Court in Vishal Goyal and Others v. State of Karnataka and Others to submit that the controversy is no longer res-integra and the view taken in Vishal Goyal ought to have been adhered to by Respondents while issuing the Bulletin.
State of Karnataka filed its reply submitting inter alia, that under the eligibility conditions, only candidates of Karnataka origin could compete for admission to 50% government seats in government colleges and against government quota seats in private colleges. The reply further stated that these eligibility conditions were stipulated in order to ensure that the State’s requirement of skilled human resource is met with and that the Post-Graduate Medical Education Regulation 2000 (‘2000 Regulations’ for short) of Medical Council of India do not prohibit the State from stipulating eligibility conditions for Post-Graduate courses. The reply further submitted that the State was within its right to formulate eligibility conditions to give preference to candidates who were most likely to serve the State.
Another party in the case Medical Council of India (“MCI”) submitted that the Information Bulletin (PGET-2014) issued by the State of Karnataka in the year 2014 contained similar eligibility criteria as provided in Clause 4.1 of the present Information Bulletin (PGET-2018) which was challenged in the case of Vishal Goyal (supra) and that this Court held the preference based on domicile to be violative of the principle of equality and hence liable to be set aside.
Since the matter involved urgency and the career prospects of the petitioners and similarly situated candidates were in question, the matter was taken up for hearing immediately.
The Supreme Court in its judgment said “The relevant clause under consideration, namely, Clause 4.1 of the Information Bulletin for PGET-2018 is identical in substance to the one that was considered in Vishal Goyal (supra). The matter is thus no longer res-integra and is completely covered by the decision in Vishal Goyal (supra).In the circumstances, we respectfully follow the decision of this Court in Vishal Goyal (supra) and hold Clause 4.1 of the Information Bulletin (PGET-2018) which was published on the website on 10.03.2018 to be invalid to the extent it disqualifies petitioners and similarly situated candidates who completed their MBBS/BDS Degree Courses from colleges situated in Karnataka from competing for admission to Post-Graduate Medical/Dental Courses in Government Medical Colleges and against government quota seats in non-governmental institutions.”
The court also ordered State of Karnataka and other Respondents to suitably modify and amend the Information Bulletin in question in keeping with the observations made in this Judgment and re-publish the Calendar of Events in terms of this Judgment and complete the entire process within the timeline stipulated by the concerned regulatory authorities.