The court also set aside section 5(4) of the Kerala Medical Officers’ Admission to Postgraduate Courses under Service Quota Act, 2008 which provided that senior candidates, serving the state government, will be given admission in PG course ahead of junior counterparts despite scoring less in the common entrance examination.
Seniors will have to obtain the minimum eligibility bench-mark in that test in terms of the regulations framed by the Medical Council of India, the provision said.
Referring to various case laws, a bench of justices T S Thakur and R Banumathi said “it is, in the light of the pronouncements, futile to argue that the impugned legislation can hold the field even when it is in clear breach of the Medical Council of India’s Regulations.”
“A meritorious in-service candidate cannot be denied admission only because he has an eligible senior above him though lower in merit. It is now fairly well settled that merit and merit alone can be the basis of admission among candidates belonging to any given category.
“In service, candidates belong to one category. Their inter-se merit cannot be overlooked only to promote seniority which has no place in the scheme of MCI Regulations. That does not mean that merit based admissions to in-service candidates cannot take into account the service rendered by such candidates in rural areas,” the court said in its 27-page verdict.
The high court had directed that selection of in-service medical officers for post-graduate medical education under the Act shall be made “strictly on the basis of inter se seniority of the candidates who have taken the common entrance test for post-graduate medical education and have obtained the minimum eligibility bench mark in that test in terms of the Regulations framed by the MCI.”
Referring to MCI regulations, the apex court said it had in the past held that candidates, who are in government services, can be treated as a “separate channel for admission to post-graduate course within that category” but the admission can be granted “only on the basis of merit”.