The Madhya Pradesh High Court has invalidated the merit list created by the State government for “in-service doctors” for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) post graduate (PG) medical counselling for the year 2022–2023 in the matter of Dr. Diwakar Patel v. State of MP.
The state administration was ordered to create a new list of qualified candidates and hold the counselling session all over again by a division bench that included Chief Justice RV Malimath and Justice Vishal Mishra.
The court was deliberating a number of petitions submitted by a number of medical professionals working in district hospitals around Madhya Pradesh. The doctors who filed the case qualified for admission to PG medical programmes on May 25 this year through the NEET exam, according to the plea.
On July 26, 2022, the MP government amended the Madhya Pradesh Chikitsa Shiksha Pravesh Niyam, 2018 (2018 Rules) to add a proviso that excluded such “in-service” physicians who had solely worked in district level hospitals and district health care centres of the State.
Only doctors who had worked in remote or rural areas for at least three years were qualified for the 30% reservation under the new guidelines. In light of this, the petitioners contested the proviso, claiming it was arbitrary and unjustified.
Despite the fact that the MP government’s 2018 Rules included a 30 percent quota reservation for all registered medical officers, the MP government contended that the 2022 amendment was introduced to limit the reservation to “only those in-service candidates who have put in service in rural/remote and difficult areas.”
The MP government claimed that the amendment was in line with a Supreme Court ruling from the case of Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association and others v. Union of India and others, which was decided in 2021.
According to the MP government, the Supreme Court judgement stated that medical officers who serve in remote, difficult, and rural areas should automatically have an edge over doctors who have not provided their services in these places.
The High Court ruled that the additional proviso could not be inserted mid-session even though it accepted the State’s argument that the modification was legally acceptable.
So far as writ petitioners are concerned, we are of the considered view that the denial of the petitioners’ right to apply as in-service candidates has been grossly affected. That they are entitled to be considered as in-service candidates in terms of Rules 2 and 14 of the Rules of 2018. Not including their names in the list of candidates who were entitled for such a relief, in our considered view, is inappropriate,the Court Stated
As a result, it was decided that the modification would be prospective and would not apply to the current class of physicians.
We have concluded that the impugned amendment is prospective and cannot affect the present batch of doctors,The state administration was ordered by the court to create a new list of qualified applicants.
Advocates Siddharth R. Gupta and Aditya Sanghi spoke on behalf of the petitioner doctors. Deputy Advocate General Janhavi Pandit, Senior Advocate KC Ghildiyal, and advocate Anoop Nair and Rohan Harne defended the respondents.