T.C. (C) No. 98 of 2012, T.C. (C) No. 99/2012, T.C. (C) No. 101/2012, T.C. (C) No. 100/2012, T.C. (C) No. 102/2012, T.C. (C) No. 103/2012, W.P. (C) No. 480/2012, T.C. (C) No. 104/2012, T.C. (C) No. 105/2012, W.P. (C) No. 468/2012, W.P. (C) No. 467/2012, W.P. (C) No. 478/2012, T.C. (C) No. 107/2012, T.C. (C) No. 108/2012, W.P. (C) No. 481/2012, .... Case: Christian Medical College Vellore and Ors. Vs Union of India and Ors.. Supreme Court

Case Number:T.C. (C) No. 98 of 2012, T.C. (C) No. 99/2012, T.C. (C) No. 101/2012, T.C. (C) No. 100/2012, T.C. (C) No. 102/2012, T.C. (C) No. 103/2012, W.P. (C) No. 480/2012, T.C. (C) No. 104/2012, T.C. (C) No. 105/2012, W.P. (C) No. 468/2012, W.P. (C) No. 467/2012, W.P. (C) No. 478/2012, T.C. (C) No. 107/2012, T.C. (C) No. 108/2012, W.P. (C) No. 481/2012, ...
Party Name:Christian Medical College Vellore and Ors. Vs Union of India and Ors.
Judges:Altamas Kabir, C.J.I., Anil R. Dave and Vikramajit Sen, JJ.
Issue:Andhra Pradesh Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admissions and Prohibition of Capitation Fee) Act, 1983 - Sections 5, 6; Andhra University Act, 1926; Constitution of India Forty Second (Amendment) Act, 1976; Constitution of India - Articles 14, 15(5), 19, 19(1), 19(6), 21, 25, 26, 29, 29(1), 29(2), 30, 30(1), 30(2), 47, 73, 246, 254, 254...
Judgement Date:July 18, 2013
Court:Supreme Court
 
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Judgment:

Altamas Kabir, C.J.I.

  1. Four notifications, two dated 21.12.2010 and the other two dated 31.5.2012, issued by the Medical Council of India and the Dental Council of India, are the subject matter of challenge in all these matters which have been heard together by us. Notification No. MCI-31(1)/2010-MED/49068 described as "Regulations on Graduate Medical Education (Amendment) 2010, (Part II)" has been published by the Medical Council of India to amend the "Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997". Notification No. MCI. 18(1)/2010-MED/49070 described as "Post-graduate Medical Education (Amendment) Regulation, 2010 (Part II)" has been issued by the said Council to amend the "Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000". Both the Regulations came into force simultaneously on their publication in the Official Gazette. The third and fourth Notifications both bearing No. DE-22-2012 dated 31.5.2012, relating to admission in the BDS and MDS courses published by the Dental Council of India, are similar to the notifications published by the MCI.

  2. The four aforesaid Notifications have been challenged on several grounds. The major areas of challenge to the aforesaid Notifications are:

    (i) The powers of the Medical Council of India and the Dental Council of India to regulate the process of admissions into medical colleges and institutions run by the State Governments, private individuals (aided and unaided), educational institutions run by religious and linguistic minorities, in the guise of laying down minimum standards of medical education, as provided for in Section 19A of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, and under Entry 66 of List I of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution.

    (ii) Whether the introduction of one National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) offends the fundamental right guaranteed to any citizen under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business?

    (iii) Whether NEET violates the rights of religious and linguistic minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice, as guaranteed under Article 30 of the Constitution?

    (iv) Whether subordinate legislation, such as the right to frame Regulations, flowing from a power given under a statute, can have an overriding effect over the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 25, 26, 29(1) and 30 of the Constitution?

    (v) Whether the exclusion of Entry 11 from the State List and the introduction of Entry 25 in the Concurrent List by the Constitution Forty Second (Amendment) Act, 1976, makes any difference as far as the Regulations framed by the Medical Council of India Under Section 33 of the 1956 Act and those framed by the Dental Council of India Under Section 20 of the Dentists Act, 1948, are concerned, and whether such Regulations would have primacy over State legislation on the same subject?

    (vi) Whether the aforesaid questions have been adequately answered in T.M.A. Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka (2002) 8 SCC 481, and in the subsequent decisions in Islamic Academy of Education v. State of Karnataka (2003) 6 SCC 697, P.A. Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra (2005) 6 SCC 537 and Indian Medical Association v. Union of India (2011) 7 SCC 179? and

    (vii) Whether the views expressed by the Constitution Bench comprised of Five Judges in Dr. Preeti Srivastava v. State of M.P. (1999) 7 SCC 120 have any impact on the issues raised in this batch of matters?

  3. In order to appreciate the challenge thrown to the four notifications, it is necessary to understand the functions and duties of the Medical Council of India under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, and the Dental Council of India constituted under the Dentists Act, 1948. The submissions advanced in regard to the MBBS and Post-graduate courses will apply to the BDS and MDS courses also.

  4. The Indian Medical Council Act, 1933, was replaced by the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, hereinafter referred to as "the 1956 Act", inter alia, with the following objects in mind:

    (a) to give representation to licentiate members of the medical profession, a large number of whom are still practicing in the country;

    (b) to provide for the registration of the names of citizens of India who have obtained foreign medical qualifications which are not at present recognized under the existing Act;

    (c) to provide for the temporary recognition of medical qualifications granted by medical institutions in countries outside India with which no scheme of reciprocity exists in cases where the medical practitioners concerned are attached for the time being to any medical institution in India for the purpose of teaching or research or for any charitable objects;

    (d) to provide for the formation of a Committee of Post-graduate Medical Education for the purpose of assisting the Medical Council of India to prescribe standards of post-graduate medical education for the guidance of universities and to advise universities in the matter of securing uniform standards for post-graduate medical education throughout India;

    (e) To provide for the maintenance of an all-India register by the Medical Council of India, which will contain the names of all the medical practitioners possessing recognized medical qualifications.

  5. The Medical Council of India, hereinafter referred to as "MCI", has been defined in Section 2(b) of the 1956 Act to mean the Medical Council of India constituted under the said Act. The Council was constituted Under Section 3 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956. Section 6 of the aforesaid Act provides for the incorporation of the Council as a body corporate by the name of Medical Council of India, having perpetual succession and a common seal, with power to acquire and hold property, both movable and immovable, and to contract, and to sue and be sued by the said name.

  6. The powers vested in the MCI are essentially recommendatory in nature. Section 10A, which was introduced in the 1956 Act by Amending Act 31 of 1993, with effect from 27th August, 1992, inter alia, provides that notwithstanding anything contained in the Act or any other law for the time being in force:

    (a) no person shall establish a medical college; or

    (b) no medical college shall:

    (i) open a new or higher course of study or training (including a postgraduate course of study or training) which would enable a student of such course or training to qualify himself for the award of any recognised medical qualification; or

    (ii) increase its admission capacity in any course of study or training (including a postgraduate course of study or training),

    except with the previous permission of the Central Government obtained in accordance with the provisions of this section.

    Under Section 10A the function of the MCI is purely recommendatory for the purpose of grant of permission by the Central Government to establish a new medical college or to introduce a new course of study.

  7. Section 19A which was introduced into the 1956 Act by Act 24 of 1964 with effect from 16th June, 1964, provides for the Council to prescribe "minimum standards of medical education". Since Section 19A will have some bearing on the judgment itself, the same is extracted hereinbelow in full:

    19A. Minimum standards of medical education- (1) The Council may prescribe the minimum standards of medical education required for granting recognised medical qualifications (other than postgraduate medical qualifications) by universities or medical institutions in India.

    (2) Copies of the draft Regulations and of all subsequent amendments thereof shall be furnished by the Council to all State Governments and the Council shall before submitting the Regulations or any amendment thereof, as the case may be, to the Central Government for sanction, take into consideration the comments of any State Government received within three months from the furnishing of the copies as aforesaid.

    (3) The Committee shall from time to time report to the Council on the efficacy of the Regulations and may recommend to the Council such amendments thereof as it may think fit.

  8. Section 20 of the 1956 Act, provides for a Postgraduate Medical Education Committee to assist the Medical Council of India to prescribe standards of postgraduate medical education for the guidance of the Universities. For the sake of reference, the relevant portions of Section 20 of the 1956 Act with which we are concerned, are also extracted hereinbelow:

  9. Post-graduate Medical Education Committee for assisting Council in matters relating to post-graduate medical education- (1) The Council may prescribe standards of Postgraduate Medical Education for the guidance of Universities, and may advise Universities in the matter of securing uniform standards for Postgraduate Medical Education through out India, and for this purpose the Central Govt. May constitute from among the members of the Council a Postgraduate Medical Education Committee (hereinafter referred to as the Postgraduate Committee).

  10. By the first of the two Notifications dated 21st December, 2010, being MCI-31(1)/2010-Med./49068, the Medical Council of India, in purported exercise of the powers conferred by Section 33 of the 1956 Act, made various amendments to the 1997 Regulations on Graduate Medical Education. The most significant amendment, which is also the subject matter of challenge in some of these writ petitions and transferred cases, is Clause 5 in Chapter II of the Regulations. The relevant paragraph in the Amendment Notification reads as follows:

  11. In Chapter II, Clause 5 under the heading "Procedure for selection to MBBS Course shall be as follows" shall be substituted as under:

    1. There shall be a single eligibility cum entrance examination namely 'National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to MBBS course' in each academic year. The overall superintendence, direction and control of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test shall vest with...

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