New Delhi: Doctors in service cannot be given any special weightage in admissions to PG medical seats in the open category as it would adversely affect the interests of meritorious candidates, the Supreme Court has ruled.
A bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said since in-service doctors are already having a separate quota for PG admission if they intend to compete in the open category they can do only like any other meritorious candidate.
"We are of the view that such encroachment or inroad or appropriation of seats earmarked for open category candidates (direct admission category) would -- definitely affect the candidates who compete strictly on the basis of the merit," Justice Radhakrishnan writing the judgement said.
The apex court allowed the appeal by aggrieved open quota candidates challenging the Odisha government`s decision to grant additional weightage for in-service doctors in the open category despite, though they already have a separate quota.
"The in-service candidates are also free to compete through the open category just like any other who fall under that category," the bench said.
Satyaprata Sahoo and others who appeared in the entrance exams for PG (Medical) Selection 2012, Odisha had challenged the validity of Clause 11.2 of the prospectus for selection of candidates for PG (Medical) courses in government medical colleges as violative of Constitution`s Article 14 (equality).
For the MD/MS courses, 87 seats were already reserved for serving doctors under the in-service category and under open quota another 86 seats were available.
But the impugned clause gave an additional weightage in the open quota for doctors employed with Odisha government, its undertakings, Central government, its undertakings, public sectors and those who had worked in rural, tribal or backward areas.
"The purpose and object for giving weightage to in-service candidates who have rendered rural/tribal service is laudable and their interest has been taken care of by the Medical Council of India as well as the prospectus issued for admission to the various medical colleges in Odisha but they have to come through the proper channel i.E. The channel exclusively earmarked for in service candidates and not through the channel earmarked for candidates in the open category," the bench said.
"Every doctor who goes out of medical college after MBBS would not get an opportunity to serve in a rural/ tribal area by way of contractual/temporary/ad-hoc or regular service offered by the state of Odisha or a public sector.
"Few may fall in that category for various reasons and they get an advantage and those who get that advantage of course can, claim weightage when they are being considered in the in-service category," the apex court said.
The bench said encroachment by the in-service candidates into the open category would violate Clause 9(1)(a) of the MCI regulations, which stipulates that selection shall be on the basis of merit.
"Direct category or open category is a homogeneous class which consists of all categories of candidates who are fresh from college, who have rendered service after MBBS in government or private hospitals in remote and difficult areas like hilly areas, tribal and rural areas and so on.
"But there can be no encroachment from one category to another. Candidates of in-service category cannot encroach upon the open category, so also vice-versa," the bench said, directing the state to accommodate the aggrieved candidates within one week, after excluding the in-service candidates.