The Supreme Court has directed the Centre and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to allow a doctor to participate in the counselling scheduled on August 31 for admission to Post Graduate and Post-Doctoral courses published by the premier medical institute.

A bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and R Subhash Reddy made it clear that the order has been passed in the special facts and circumstances of this case, since examinations could not be held as scheduled by reason of the overwhelming rise in COVID-19 cases, and considering that a seat is still available at AIIMS, Rishikesh.

Pursuant to a notification for admission to Post Graduate and Post-Doctoral courses published by AIIMS, New Delhi, the petitioner, a doctor and a final year student of the MD course in General Medicine at the Institute of Naval Medicine, INHS Asvini, Mumbai applied for admission to the Doctor of Medicine Course of the July 2021 session.

The petitioner, Vijaya Kumar Varada, successfully participated in the online selection process, and in the departmental clinical/practical/lab-based assessment conducted virtually through video conferencing.

He was selected for a seat in the Doctor of Medicine Course in Cardiology at AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, Odisha and was offered a seat in the course in cardiology at AIIMS, and asked to join between July 1 to July 15, failing which the seat allotted to the petitioner would be forfeited.

However, the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, Nashik could not conduct the final MD General examination as per schedule in view of the Covid pandemic and the examination had to be postponed on account of the exponential rise in coronavirus cases in the state.

According to the AIIMS prospectus, it requires candidates to acquire the requisite qualification for the Post-Doctoral course within July 31, failing which they would be debarred from taking admission in the institution.

When the petition was taken up for hearing on July 19, the counsel appearing on behalf of AIIMS, New Delhi and Bhubaneswar, submitted that the first round of counselling was already over but the last date of seat allocation had been extended till August 5, and the candidates who had been selected in the first round of counselling could take up admission on or before this date.

On August 4, the top court was informed that the final theoretical MS/MD examination of the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences was due to be held from August 16-23 and thereafter, the practical examination was scheduled to be held on August 24 and 25.

The lawyer appearing on behalf of the university informed the court that the results of the petitioner would be published by August 27.

The top court did not pass any interim order on the earlier date having regard to the prospectus published by AIIMS which required candidates to acquire the requisite qualification for the Post-Doctoral course within July 31, failing which they would be debarred from taking admission and considering that the examination of the petitioner had not even been held.

The court merely directed that the matter be listed on August 27 observing orally that in the event the petitioner obtained the requisite qualification in the meanwhile and in the event any seats remained vacant, the petitioner might be allowed to take admission.

When the matter was taken up for hearing on Friday, a photocopy of the provisional degree certificate issued to the petitioner by the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences was handed over to the apex court for perusal.

The counsel appearing on behalf of the university confirmed that the photocopy is a true photocopy of the original.

The counsel appearing on behalf of AIIMS submitted, on instructions, that two seats in the Post Doctoral Course in Cardiology are available in AIIMS, Rishikesh and there is no vacancy left in DM course in cardiology at AIIMS, Bhubaneswar.

Noting the submission, the apex court directed the respondents to permit the petitioner to participate in the counselling scheduled on August 31 and to allow the petitioner admission in the available vacancy in the DM cardiology course at AIIMS, Rishikesh, if the petitioner is interested.

“It is only fair that the petitioner should get preference over candidates who have ranked below him in the merit list,” the bench said.

“This order passed by way of a one time measure for admission to the DM course in Cardiology for the July 2021-22 session, in the special facts and circumstances of this case, is not to be treated as a precedent,” the bench said.

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