The Gauhati High Court has found the Medical Council of India (MCI) eligibility criterion for MBBS aspirants from the scheduled castes and tribes “irrational and in violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution”, officials said Sunday.
According to MCI regulations, MBBS aspirants from these categories must secure at least 40 percent marks in the combined competitive examinations or joint entrance examinations (JEE). The union health ministry and the MCI had earlier refused to further relax the criterion for northeastern tribes and scheduled caste students.
A senior Tripura health department official said around 31 MBBS seats were lying vacant in the government-run medical college in Agartala and in the Tripura quota in other states because no student secured the minimum in the JEE this year in the state.
Some students and guardians have filed a writ petition in the Gauhati High Court against the MCI regulations.
“The High Court has asked the authorities to admit those students in the MBBS courses within a week against their respective quota of seats,” the official said, quoting the court order passed Friday in Guwahati.
“The division bench of the court, comprising I.A. Ansari and C.R. Sarma, said in their ruling that state secondary board examination results were sufficient,” the official said.
“Though the MCI regulations had been upheld by the Supreme Court in its various verdicts, the fact of the matter remains that in the decisions, cited and relied upon, the constitutionality of the regulation have been put to challenge,” the court is reported as saying.
“When the issue has not specifically been raised and has not been decided, the constitutionality of the MCI’s regulation remains open for challenge on the ground of its irrationality,” the high court said.
Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, responding to a letter of Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, has communicated the centre’s decision to follow the MCI guidelines.
Azad had said: “Though the health ministry agrees in principle that there is need to make enabling conditions to encourage the underprivileged sections of the society, so far as medical education is concerned, it is felt that diluting the qualifying criteria would neither be feasible not desirable.”