The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has recently held that the Amended Rules-2020 implemented by the Maharashtra government on September 7, which did away with regional reservations for admissions to undergraduate courses in medical studies, is valid.
The court observed that the concept of regional reservations is against the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), which is based on the concept of ‘One Nation One Examination” and aims at providing admissions to students on merit only, and hence, the state’s decision is valid.
The bench also noted that while regional reservations were the need of the hour as per a Supreme Court judgment of 1986, with development and advancement, regional quotas would be counter-productive and hence, there was nothing wrong in the state doing away with it.
A division bench of Justice S V Gangapurwala and Justice Shrikant D Kulkarni on December 18 passed a ruling on a clutch of petitions filed by students and parents challenging the Maharashtra government’s September 7 decision of ‘One Maharashtra, One Merit’, abolishing regional reservation for admissions to medical courses.
The 70:30 system of admissions was a long standing policy of providing regional reservation of seats in medical colleges. For the purposes, the state was divided into three regions – Marathwada, Vidarbha, and the Rest of Maharashtra.
As per the 70:30 policy formula, 70 per cent of seats were reserved for local residents (from that region), and 30 per cent were available for candidates belonging to other parts of the state, which were filled on the basis of the NEET merit list.
However, as per the amended rules, all seats shall be made available for candidates from the state and shall be filled on the basis of the NEET merit list, thereby abolishing regional reservation of 70 per cent of the seats.
The petitioner, who challenged the amendment, told the court that rules were introduced 10 months after an admission process had began and therefore, cannot be applied retrospectively and the admission process for the academic year 2020-21 should not be impacted.
After hearing the submissions, the bench observed, “The contention of the petitioners that Amendment Rules-2020 are made operative retrospectively do not appear to be proper. Before the conduct of the NEET examination, the rules are amended. Moreover, amended rules do not affect the prospects of the students in whatsoever manner.”
The bench led by Justice Gangapurwala added, “The basis of admission to the medical course is the merit alone achieved by the students in NEET examination. No student can claim the right to possess regional reservation. The marks obtained in the HSC examination carry no weightage for medical admission. In light of the above, the arguments of the petitioners that the amendment Rules-2020 applied retrospectively would not hold water.”
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