(Prayers: W.A.No.1281 of 2014: Writ Appeal filed under Clause 15 of the Letters Patent against the order dated 27 August 2014 made in W.P.No.18766 of 2014.
W.P.No.23374 of 2014: Writ Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying to issue a Writ of Mandamus directing the respondents to consider the requisition letter sent by the petitioner's daughter dated 23 May 2014, 14 June 2014 and petitioner's representation dated 26 July 2014 requesting the respondents to change the category from Pondicherry Unreserved (P.UR) to Puducherry other backward class (P.OBC) of the notice issued by the respondents Education 1(4)2014 MBBS Admission dated 11.11.2014 provisional short list for admission to first year MBBS Course July 2014 Session Puducherry other backward classes (P.OBC) and include the petitioner's daughter's name R. Dharshini in Serial No.11, Rank No.25, Roll No.35050020 and name of the candidate Dharshini R. Category P-OBC Marks 120 and also admit the petitioner's daughter R. Dharshini for admission to MBBS Course for July 2014 at JIPMER, Puducherry.)Common Judgment:
1. The intra court appeal in W.A.No.1281 of 2014 is at the instance of Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (hereinafter referred to as "JIPMER") and the challenge is to the order dated 27 August 2014 in W.P.No.18766 of 2014, whereby and whereunder, the learned Single Judge directed JIPMER to treat the first respondent as belonging to Other Backward Class" and take necessary action for admission to first year MBBS course depending upon his placement in the merit list.
2. The writ petition in W.P.No.23374 of 2014 is at the instance of an applicant for admission to the First Year MMBS Course and the prayer is to direct JIPMER to change her category to "Other Backward Class" from Pondicherry Open Category and to give her admission.
W.A.No.1281 of 2014:
Facts in nutshell:
3. The first respondent in this writ appeal belongs to "Other Backward Community". His father migrated to Pondicherry long back and has been residing there. The first respondent was born on 26 June 1997 at Pondicherry. He had his education at Pondicherry. The first respondent belongs to Kongu Vellalar"" Community which is notified as "Other Backward Class" in Tamil Nadu and "Backward Class"" in Pondicherry.
4. The first respondent submitted application for admission to MBBS course for the academic year 2014-2015 pursuant to the notification issued by JIPMER. The first respondent claimed admission under the category reserved for "Pondicherrry - Other Backward Classes". He produced the community certificate issued by the Tahsildar, Villianur - the second respondent herein indicating that he belongs to "Kongu Vellalar" Community which is notified as Backward Community" . JIPMER refused to accept the said certificate on the ground that the community of the first respondent was not found in the list of "Backward Classes" notified by Government of India, and as a result his application was not considered. This resulted in filing the writ petition in W.P.No.18766 of 2014.
5. The learned Single Judge found that the first respondent was given a Community Certificate by the competent authority in the Union Territory of Pondicherry to the effect that he belongs to Backward Class". The learned Single Judge was of the view that the first respondent belongs to a community notified as Backward in both the states and as such he should be considered for admission under reserved category. The learned Judge allowed the writ petition. Feeling aggrieved by the said order, JIPMER has come up with this intra court appeal.
6. The learned Additional Solicitor General by placing reliance on the conditions stipulated in the prospectus contended that candidates making application for admission under the category "Other Backward Class" should produce a certificate in the prescribed format and the community should be included in the list published by the Central Government. According to the learned Additional Solicitor General, the first respondent initially produced the certificate in the prescribed format. The said certificate was subsequently recalled by the Tahsildar, Villianur. "Kongu Vellalar" community is not shown as Backward Class" in the list published by the Central Government. Therefore his name was not considered for admission under reserved category. The learned Additional Solicitor General further submitted that JIPMER is a Central Government Institution and as such the candidate should prove that his community is included in the list published by the Central Government to claim reservation as "Backward Class". According to the learned Additional Solicitor General, the first respondent was given admission pursuant to the order passed by this Court and he is now attending classes on the basis of the said interim order. The learned Additional Solicitor General contended that the decision in the writ petition would operate as a precedent and even candidates whose community names are not found in the Central List would claim admission as "Backward Class" in the coming academic years and as such this Court should make an authoritative pronouncement on the question of law raised by JIPMER.
7. The learned Senior Counsel for the first respondent contended that the father of the first respondent belongs to "Kongu Vellalar" and he migrated from Tamil Nadu to Pondicherry. The community in question is treated as "Other Backward Class" in Tamil Nadu and "Backward Class" in the list published by the Government of Pondicherry and therefore he should be treated as "Other Backward Class". According to the learned Senior Counsel, Government of India issued a circular dated 8 April 1994 to the effect that certificates would be issued irrespective of whether the community in question is included in the list of "Other Backward Class" pertaining to the State/Union Territory to which the person has migrated. The learned Senior Counsel contended that so long as it is clear that the first respondent belongs to "Other Backward Class", there is no need to show that his community is notified as "Backward Class" in the list published by Central Government. The learned Senior Counsel further submitted that the first respondent is now studying First Year MBBS Course and classes have already commenced. Even if this Court allows the writ appeal, it is not possible for JIPMER to admit another candidate from the waiting list on account of the cut off date fixed by the Supreme Court of India for completing medical admission. Learned Senior Counsel further submitted that the petitioner in W.P.No.23374 of 2014 has already joined Manakula Vinayagar Medical College, Pondicherry and therefore, no purpose would be served by setting aside the order passed by the learned Single Judge at this point of time.
W.P.No.23374 of 2014:
8. The minor petitioner belongs to "Cavara Naidu" community. The said community is shown as "Backward Class" in the notification published by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, New Delhi dated 26 June 2011. The minor petitioner submitted application for admission to MBBS Course. The minor petitioner originally submitted application inadvertently under the category "Puducherry Unreserved", not withstanding the fact that she belongs to "Backward Class". Subsequently she submitted a representation on 22 May 2014 requesting to change the category from "Puducherry Unreserved" to "Puducherry Other Backward Class". However, her application was not considered by JIPMER. The minor petitioner having found that JIPMER published the select list containing names of only ten persons in spite of earmarking 11 seats for "Pondicherry - Backward Class", immediately filed this writ petition for a direction to JIPMER, to permit her to change the category and to give admission for the academic year 2014-2015.
9. The Dean, JIPMER filed a counter affidavit in answer to the contentions raised in the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition. According to the Dean, out of 28 seats reserved for "Other Backward Classes", 11 seats are earmarked for Pondicherry Backward Class. The petitioner had secured 120 marks and hence she could not be admitted for the course. According to the Dean another candidate by name Ms.Sana Fathima cancelled her admission and took back all the original certificates and as such a vacancy arose in the category "Pondicherry - Other Backward Class". In the meantime, the first respondent in W.A.No.1281 of 2014 filed Writ petition and it was allowed on 27 August 2014. The counter affidavit contained an indication that the name of the petitioner could not be considered on account of the admission given to the first respondent in W.A.No.1281 of 2014, he having scored 124 marks as against 120 marks scored by the petitioner.
10. The learned counsel for the petitioner contended that the first respondent in W.A.No.1281 of 2014 failed to produce the certificate issued by the Central Government indicating that he belongs to "Other Backward Class". According to the learned counsel the first respondent in W.A.No.1281 of 2014 is not entitled for admission under Reserved category and therefore the said seat should be given to the petitioner. It was further contended that the petitioner submitted an application for change of category at the earliest point of time, but however, it was not considered. The learned counsel wanted JIPMER to cancel the admission given to the first respondent in W.A.No.1281 of 2014 and consider the case of petitioner after changing her category from "Pondicherry-Unreserved" to "Pondicherry - Backward Class".
11. The learned Additional Solicitor General submitted that the case of the petitioner could be considered for change of category and admission only in accordance with the prospectus and that too only in case the admission given to the first respondent is cancelled. The learned Additional Solicitor General further submitted that even if the admission of first respondent in W.A.No.1281 of 2014 is cancelled, still further admission could be made only in case permission is given by Honourable Supreme Court.
W.A.No.1281 of 2014
12. JIPMER is an institution of Excellence established by Government of India. It is located at Pondicherry. Jawaharlal Institute of Post-Graduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry Act, 2008 declared JIPMER as an Institution of National Importance". The Central Act 19 of 2008 provides for reservation of seats for Pondicherry residents. Section 13(m) of the Act provides that atleast twenty seats out of seventy five seats in undergraduate courses in the institution should be reserved for local applicants.
13. The prospectus issued by JIPMER for the academic year 2014-2015 shows that 28 seats are earmarked for "Other Backward Classes". Similarly, 40 seats are earmarked for the residents of Pondicherry. Out of this, 23 seats are shown as " Pondicherry - Unreserved" category and 11 seats are earmarked for "Pondichery - Other Backward Classes" and 6 seats for "Pondicherry - Scheduled Caste" category. The prospectus contained the definition of various categories. As per the prospectus, in order to claim reservation under "Other Backward Classes", the sub caste name should tally with the Central List of Other Backward Classes published by Central Government. Candidates are required to obtain a certificate in the prescribed format appended to the prospectus. Reservation of seats for Pondicherry residents is not a constitutional reservation. It is only a concession given by JIPMER to the local people on account of the situs of the institution.
14. The first respondent submitted an application along with community certificate in the prescribed format. The selection committee verified the certificate in the light of the Central List. The name of "Kongu Vellalar" was not found in the Central List of "Other Backward Classes". This made the selection committee not to allot a seat to the first respondent. In the meantime, the Tahsildar, Villianur, who issued the certificate originally to the first respondent in the prescribed format, by his latter dated 30 July 2014 informed JIPMER that "Other Backward Class" certificate was wrongly issued in the Central Format to the first respondent instead of issuing in the format prescribed by State Government. The Tahsildar made it clear that "Kongu Vallalar" was not included in the Central List of "Other Backward Classes". The Tahsildar wanted JIPMER not to honour the certificate issued to the first respondent dated 20 July 2014. However the Tahsildar confirmed the factual postion that first respondent belongs to "Kongu Vellalar" which is notified as "Backward Class" in Pondicherry.
15. There is no dispute that "Kongu Vellalar" is a "Backward Class" and the name of the said community is shown as "Backward Class" in the list published by the Government of Pondicherry. It is also an admitted position that "Kongu Vellalar" is not shown as a "Backward Class" in the list published by Central Government.
16. The prospectus issued by JIPMER very clearly states that the name of the concerned community for claiming reservation should be included in the Central List. The terms and conditions of the prospectus are applicable both to JIPMER as well as to the first respondent. The conditions stated in the prospectus that for the purpose of claiming reservation under "Backward Class", the name of the community/caste should be included in the Central list, is not under challenge. The certificate originally obtained by the first respondent in the prescribed format was subsequently recalled. Therefore, it is clear that the first respondent is not entitled to claim reservation under Pondicherry "Backward Class" even though his community is declared as "Backward Class" by the Government of Pondicherry.
17. The learned Single Judge allowed the writ petition solely on the ground that "Kongu Vellalar" is a Backward Class both in Pondicherry and in TamilNadu. The fact that the list published by Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry contained "Kongu Vellalar" as Backward Class would not give a right to the first respondent to claim reservation as "Pondicherry - Backward Class" unless it is shown that the said community is included in the list published by Central Government.
18. JIPMER is a Central Government Institution. Applicants claiming reservation must show that the concerned community is included in the Central list. It is true that Government of Pondicherry has appointed a Commission to decide the claim regarding inclusion in community list. Unless and until the name of the community is forwarded to the Government of India and a fresh notification is issued by including the particular community name in the Central List of Backward class, the candidates like the first respondent would not be entitled to the benefit of reservation. We are, not in a position to agree with the views expressed by the learned Single Judge. The order passed by the learned Single Judge dated 27 August 2014 in W.P.No.18766 of 2014 is therefore legally unsustainable.
Balancing the equity:
19. The next question is whether we should cancel the admission given to the first respondent at t his point of time, and that too after the expiry of cut off date prescribed for completing the admission for the academic year 2014-2015.
20. The writ petition filed by the first respondent was allowed by the writ court on 27 August 2013. When the writ appeal came up for hearing on 25 September 2014, taking into account the fact that the last date prescribed for admission to MBBS course was on 30 September 2014, JIPMER was directed to give admission provisionally to the first respondent subject to the final outcome of the writ appeal. It is a matter of record that pursuant to the said direction JIPMER granted admission to the first respondent and he is now studying in First year MBBS Course.
21. Even if the admission given to the first respondent is cancelled, it would not be possible for JIPMER to fill up the said seat in view of the cut off date prescribed by the Supreme Court. We are now in the midstream. There is no question of filling up the vacancy from wait listed candidates after 30 September 2014.
22. The Supreme Court in Mridhul Dhar (Minor) v. Union of India (2005) 5 SCC 65 and Priya Gupta v. State of Chattisgarh (2012) 7 SCC 433 fixed 30 September every year as the last date for making admission to MBBS course.
23. Most recently, in Chandigarh Administration v. Jasmine Kaur (2014) 10 Scale 1, the Supreme Court held that the schedule relating to admissions to the professional colleges should be strictly and scrupulously adhered to by one and all and shall not be deviated under any circumstance either by the Courts or the Board and midstream admission should not be permitted.
24. In view of the deadline fixed by the Supreme Court it would not be possible for JIPMER to reopen the admission process. Similarly, it would not be possible for the first respondent to join in any other institution for the academic year 2014-2015. The first respondent is undergoing MBBS course for the last more than one month. The petitioner in W.P.No.23374 of 2014 originally applied under "Unreseved category". It was only subsequently she made an application for change of category. The prospectus provides that only a change in category/status in the hall ticket alone will be considered for rectification. The question of considering the case of the petitioner in W.P.No.23374 of 2014 for admission would arise only in case her application for change of category is allowed in accordance with the prospectus. Even then it would not be possible to give her admission on account of the dead line prescribed by the Supreme Court. Moreover we are informed that the petitioner in W.P.No.23374 of 2014 has already joined MBBS course in Manakula Vinayagar Medical College at Pondicherry. We are therefore of the view that this is a fit case to balance equity.
Whether we should extend discretionary relief to the appellant:
25. We have already arrived at a finding that in order to claim admission under "Backward Class" category, the name of the community should find place in the list published by the Central Government. We have thus accepted the case of JIPMER on merits. Even then we are not inclined to exercise our discretion in favour of JIPMER in view of the subsequent events.
26. The jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is extraordinary in nature. It is otherwise called as equity jurisdiction. The Court is not bound to exercise the discretion in favour of a party, merely because law is in its favour. In appropriate cases, it is open to the Court to refuse grant of relief after declaring the law on the subject. The Court can also mould the relief to do substantial justice.
Supreme Court on discretionary relief:
27. The Supreme Court in State of Maharashtra and others v. Prabhu (1994) 2 SCC 481 indicated the scope and ambit of equity jurisdiction.
'5. 'It is the responsibility of the High Court as custodian of the Constitution to maintain the social balance by interfering where necessary for sake of justice and refusing to interfere where it is against the social interest and public good.'
28. The Supreme Court in G.M.,O.N.G.C.Ltd., v. Sendhabhai Vastram Patel JT 2005(7) SC 465 observed that it is not always necessary to strike down a wrong decision only because it would be lawful to do so. The Supreme Court said:
" 23. It is now well-settled that the High Courts and the Supreme Court while exercising their equity jurisdiction under Articles 226 and 32 of the Constitution as also Article 136 thereof may not exercise the same in appropriate cases. While exercising such jurisdiction, the superior courts in India even may not strike down a wrong order only because it would be lawful to do so. A discretionary relief may be refused to be extended to the Appellant in a given case although the Court may find the same to be justified in law."
29. The Supreme Court in Ritesh Tewari v. State of U.P., (2010) 10 SCC 677, explained the discretionary and equity jurisdiction in the following words:
"26. The power under Article 226 of the Constitution is discretionary and supervisory in nature. It is not issued merely because it is lawful to do so. The extraordinary power in the writ jurisdiction does not exist to set right mere errors of law which do not occasion any substantial injustice. A writ can be issued only in case of a grave miscarriage of justice or where there has been a flagrant violation of law. The writ court has not only to protect a person from being subjected to a violation of law but also to advance justice and not to thwart it. The Constitution does not place any fetter on the power of the extraordinary jurisdiction but leaves it to the discretion of the court. However, being that the power is discretionary, the court has to balance competing interests, keeping in mind that the interests of justice and public interest coalesce generally. A court of equity, when exercising its equitable jurisdiction must act so as to prevent perpetration of a legal fraud and promote good faith and equity. An order in equity is one which is equitable to all the parties concerned. The petition can be entertained only after being fully satisfied about the factual statements and not in a casual and cavalier manner. "
30. The Supreme Court in Eastern Coalfields Ltd. v. Bajrangi Rabidas (2013) 12 Scale 69 held that jurisdiction under Article 226 of Constitution of India being discretionary is not to be exercised whenever there is an error of law. The Supreme Court observed:
"17. ...........It is well settled in law that jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution is equitable and discretionary. The power of the High Court is required to be exercised 'to reach injustice wherever it is found. In Sangram Singh v. Election Commissioner, Kotah and another, (1995) 2 SCR 1, it has been observed that jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution is not to be exercised whenever there is an error of law. The powers are purely discretionaly and though no limits can be placed upon that discretion, it must be exercised along recognized lines and not arbitrarily and one of the limitations imposed by the courts on themselves is that they will not exercise jurisdiction in such class of cases unless substantial injustice has ensued or is likely to ensue. That apart, the High court while exercising the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution can always take cognizance of the entire facts and circumstances and pass appropriate directions to balance the justice. The jurisdiction being extraordinary it is required to be exercised keeping in mind the principles of equity."
31. We are of the considered view that the facts and circumstances of the case does not warrant cancellation of admission given to the first respondent.
32. In view of the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case including the cut off date prescribed for completing the admission for the academic year 2014-2015 and taking into account the subsequent events culminated in giving admission to the first respondent and the factum of his undergoing the course, we direct JIPMER to permit the first respondent to continue the MBBS course commencing from the academic year 2014-2015. We make it clear that the community by name "Kongu Vellalar" is not entitled to Pondicherry-Backward Class reservation, as the said community is not included in the list published by the Central Government. In the facts and circumstances of the case, as aforestated, the writ petitioner/first respondent is permitted to continue his medical education. However, the writ petitioner cannot claim any benefit derived from the fact that he was admitted against Pondicherry-Backward Class reservation quota as notified by the Central Government.
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o.23374 of 2014: 33. The minor petitioner initially submitted application for MBBS admission under "Puduchery - Unreseved" category. According to the minor petitioner she submitted an application on 23 May 2014 to change her category from "Puducherry - Unreserved" to "Puduchery - Other Backward Class. Even though the petitioner claimed that she obtained a community certificate form the Tahsildar and the same was enclosed along with the application dated 23 May 2014, the certificate shows that it was issued only on 24 June 2014. Since application was made against Puducherry Unreserved category, JIPMER processed her application treating her as General category candidate. The prospectus contained a provision that no request for change in the details provided for in the application would be considered, after submission of on-line application by clicking the "submit button". The last date for on-line registration of application at JIPMER was on 2 May 2014. Similarly the prospectus provides that hall tickets will be made available through Internet and the same could be downloaded from 15 May 2014 onwards. The petitioner submitted application for change of category on the strength of the provision regarding change in category/status in hall ticket. The said provision shows that change in category/status alone will be considered for rectification. The requirement is to the effect that written request with a copy of the downloaded application and hall ticket and proof of category/status should reach JIPMER on or before 2 June 2014. Even though the petitioner has produced a copy of the application on 23 May 2014, there is no proof to the effect that the application was actually submitted to JIPMER. In any case, "Backward class certificate itself was obtained only on 24 June 2014. Therefore it is clear that application for change of category with the required certificates was given only after the cut off date prescribed for such purpose. The petitioner originally claimed admission under Unreserved Category as she was not given community certificate by the Tahsildar. It was only after the expiry of the cut off date, she obtained the community certificate. There is no question of directing JIPMER to change the category after the prescribed period and that too after conducting entrance examination. We therefore do not find any merit in the contention taken by the petitioner. Disposition: 34. In the result, the intra court appeal in W.A.No.1281 of 2014 is allowed to the extent indicated above and without disturbing the admission given to the first respondent. The writ petition in W.P.No.23374 of 2014 is dismissed. Consequently, the connected MPs are closed. No costs.