The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a petition challenging the regulation prescribing a minimum 50th percentile in the National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test (NEET) as a mandatory requirement for admission to post-graduate medical courses, saying there cannot be any compromise on the issue of quality of doctors as it involves a risk to human lives.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma said that the provision cannot be quashed because seats are lying vacant and it would be unconscionable for the court to interfere in the medical education standards duly and diligently set by the governing authority as it involves a matter of life and death.
The bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad, emphasized that lowering the standards of medical education has the potential to wreak havoc on society and opined that it cannot direct the authorities to “fill up the seats, especially when the persons concerned have not obtained the minimum percentile”.
“This court emphasizes that the lowering of the standards of medical education has the potential of wreaking havoc on society at large due to the risk that practice of medicine entails; it involves in its ambit the matter of life and death, and therefore, it would be unconscionable for this Court to interfere in the standards duly and diligently set by the governing authority,” said the court.
“This court, therefore, cannot issue a mandamus directing the Respondents to fill up the seats, especially when the persons concerned have not obtained the minimum percentile as this Court is dealing with admissions to postgraduate courses in various medical colleges, and there cannot be any compromise on the issue of quality of doctors/ specialists as it involves a risk to human lives. Resultantly, no case for interference is made out in the matter,” the court opined.
The petitioners –three doctors who sought admission to postgraduate courses – filed the public interest litigation for a direction to quash Regulation 9(3) of the Post-Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000 which prescribes a minimum of 50th percentile in NEET-PG as a mandatory requirement for admission to postgraduate courses in respect of general category candidates.
The regulation prescribes at least the 40th percentile for reserved category candidates for admission to postgraduate courses.
The petitioner said that the requirement was illegal and arbitrary and the percentile system was faulty as it was resulting in a large number of seats lying vacant even when candidates who are efficient and willing are available.
The petitioners claimed that there was a huge shortage of doctors in the subject of pathology, microbiology, and anaesthesiology who are the specialists and regulations deserved to be declared as ultra vires.
The court said that the petitioners did not make out a case of “unreasonableness, manifestly arbitrariness, lack of legislative competence, violation of fundamental rights, violation of any provision of the Constitution of India and repugnancy of the laws” to warrant any interference.
“The question of quashing the statutory provision in the peculiar circumstances of the case does not arise merely because a large number of seats are lying vacant… The writ petition is accordingly dismissed,” the court said.
The respondent authorities, represented by advocates T Singhdev and Ripu Daman Bhardwaj, defended the regulation and said that the purpose of conducting NEET is to ensure that the candidates who are admitted to postgraduate medical courses are suitable and possess the right aptitude so that they can pursue a specialized stream of medicine after the requisite teaching and training.
They stated that the statement made by the petitioners in respect of vacant seats is misleading and incorrect.