Chennai: Madras High Court recently observed that candidates should consider that a Post Graduate seat is a national resource, and therefore, meritorious candidates getting admitted to such seats should not waste the seats by discontinuing the course.
With this observation, the HC bench of Acting Chief Justice T. Raja and Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy pointed out that “…there was another candidate who missed the seat just by a fraction of marks and therefore, should be more careful in planning their career and personal life.”
The bench was considering an appeal made jointly by the selection committee of the Directorate of Medical Education (DME) and the Dean of Madras Medical College (MMC) in 2023. The plea had been made against a single-judge order passed by the HC back in 2019.
In that order, the Court had directed the DME and the Dean of MMC for returning back the MBBS degree certificate and transfer certificate to an MBBS graduate, without forcing her to pay the discontinuation fees of Rs 15 lakh.
The concerned student had secured PG medical admission to Madras Medical College, Chennai in the second round of counselling back in 2019 in MD (Tuberculosis and Respiratory diseases) / Pulmonary Medicine UR/MD (Respiratory Medicine), on the basis of her score in NEET PG examination for the concerned year.
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Accordingly, the student paid the tuition fee and joined the course. However, within two days of admission, she had submitted a letter and discontinued the course because of sudden change of events in her personal life i.e. fixing of her marriage.
Thereafter, when she was ready to forego her tuition fee, the certificates which includes her M.B.B.S., Degree Certificate, Registration Certificate, Transfer Certificate etc., which she handed over at the time of joining of the college, were not returned to her insisting that she has to pay the discontinuation fee of Rs. 15,00,000 besides the tuition fee.
When the candidate challenged this decision and approached the HC bench, the DME and the Dean of the medical college submitted that as per Clause 24(c), if a candidate under All India Quota discontinues the course after the last phase of counseling, he or she is liable to pay the discontinuation fee.
After considering the submissions, the Single Judge bench had considered the instructions contained in Clauses 24(c) & 27(a) and found that as per Clause 27(a), the liability to pay the discontinuation fee arises only if the discontinuation had taken place after the cut-off date for admission.
However, the bench had observed that since the discontinuation, in this case, had taken place before the cut-off date for admission, the liability does not arise. With this observation, the Single-judge bench had allowed the plea and directed the Dean of the medical college to return the educational documents. Challenging this decision, the DME and Dean of the medical college had approached the Division bench of the High Court.
The authorities submitted before the Division bench that according to the decision of the Director General of Health Services (DGHS), the candidates who secured admission under All India Quota in the second round, will not be able to resign from their allotted seats or participate in any further counselling. This being the situation, the petitioner cannot resign and even if she resigns, the seat will not be reverted to the State and accordingly, one precious P.G Medical Seat at the Madras Medical College got wasted on account of the resignation of the petitioner, submitted the authorities.
It was further submitted that the State maintains all facilities including Professors for teaching PG students who are limited in number and if the petitioner vacates her seat in a casual manner, then the Clauses in the Prospectus cannot be read in the manner as read by the learned Single Judge.
The authorities pointed out that even though Clause 24(c) expressly mentions that candidates of All India Quota, it can be seen that there is no such express mention of AIQ students in Clause 27(a).
Therefore, the counsel for the authorities argued that the mention of the cut-off date can only be applicable fo the State Quota students and the petitioner, who got admission under the AIQ, is liable to pay the discontinuation fee of Rs 15 lakh once she vacates the seat after the last phase of counseling, which is the second round of counselling in this case. It was argued that the State has clearly been put to loss, besides the national resource of one PG Medical Seat had also gone waste.
Despite finding force in her submission, the Division Bench referred to Clause 27(a) of the Prospectus and noted, “A plain reading of the said Prospectus does not make any difference between the State Quota or All India Quota and it simply provides that if only the candidates who discontinue their course after the cut off date i.e., after 31.05.2019, they have to pay the discontinuing fees, otherwise, they will only forfeit their tuition fees.”
Even though the bench noted that there is apparent conflict and ambiguity between Clauses 24(c) and 27(a), it also clarified that since the authorities authored the Prospectus, according the Supreme Court order in United India Insurance Co. Ltd. Vs. Pushpalaya Printers and Central Bank of India Vs. Virudhunagar Steel Rolling Mills Limited and Ors, the benefits of such ambiguity would benefit the student, who would not be liable to pay the discontinuation fees.
Although the bench passed the order in favour of the student, it noted that
“We also add that the first respondent seems to be a meritorious candidate and she pleads that she had to discontinue on account of the personal front. She got admission on 17.04.2019. She even joined college on 01.05.2019, but within two days, she had decided to discontinue the course for her own personal reasons, leading to the present situation.”
Disapproving the practice of wasting precious medical seats, the bench further noted,
“Candidates like the first respondent also should consider that a Post Graduation Medical seat is a national resource by itself and that there was another candidate who missed the seat just by a fraction of marks and therefore, should be more careful in planning their career and personal life. Only because of the ambiguity in the prospectus, the appeal is dismissed.”
To read the order, click on the link below:
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