Manipal-Tata Medical College Off-Campus Centre Approved, 150 MBBS Students Admissions Confirmed: Jharkhand HC
The Jharkhand High Court in Manipal-Tata Medical College vs Union of India — W.P.(C) No.3588 of 2020 set aside the notice of government removing petitioner college from counselling process of NEET and passed orders to confirm admissions of students obtained by the interim order of the Honorable Supreme Court. The court further directed the college to make an application for post facto permission for the establishment of an Off-Campus center under the 2021 UGC Regulations.
A single-judge bench of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Rajesh Shankar held:
“Though the students admitted in the petitioner no.1-College after getting LoP issued under section 10-A of the IMC, 1956 and in compliance of the direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court are not to be disturbed, yet the petitioner no.2 is required to get permission mandated under Regulation 11.7.1 of the Regulations, 2021”
The petitioner — Manipal Academy of Higher Education (hereinafter MAHE) and Tata Steel Limited created a consortium to set up a premier institution for medical education and training — Manipal-Tata Medical College at Baridih, Jamshedpur. After taking necessary approvals from required authorities, the final approval was given by the Board of Governors under Section 10-A of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956. Petitioner was granted Letter of Permission (LoP) on 24.09.2020 for the establishment of Medical College for 150 MBBS students commencing from the academic year 2020-21.
Petitioner was further directed to seek approvals if any from required authorities like MHRD/UGC. National Medical Commission (NMC) had sought approval of UGC for petitioner under the 2019 Regulations for establishment of Off-Centre Campus. The same was not given by UGC as it considered the petitioner as Institute of Eminence (IoE) pursuant to the notification of 14.10.2020. Therefore, the Secretary of NMC directed the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) to remove the petitioner college from the seat matrix of NEET counselling. The issue was whether the order passed by MCC removing the petitioner from counselling was valid and whether the petitioner college needed permission from UGC to establish Off-Campus Centre under relevant regulations.
Petitioner had applied on 16.10.2020 to UGC for the establishment of Off-Campus Centre as per UGC Regulations, 2019. As it was already granted IoE status, UGC held that 2017 Regulations were to be applied and no permission was needed for Off-Campus Centre. This absence of permission by UGC was treated as the ground for setting aside approval given to the college by the Secretary of NMC and was removed from the counselling seat matrix.
Petitioner filed Special Leave Petition (SLP) for intermediary relief, which was granted by Honorable SC, and the name of the college was included in the second counselling round. The admission was contingent on approval of the college by Jharkhand HC. UGC on 10.11.2020 clarified that the petitioner being IoE, is no longer governed by Regulations, 2019 but under Regulations, 2017 which do not contain specific provisions for the opening of Off Camus Centre. The regulations were silent on the issue.
The Court observed that, while directing MCC to remove the name of petitioner college from the seat matrix, the secretary of NMC overlooked the fact that the petitioner college was governed by Regulations, 2017 and was not required to submit approvals of UGC etc. as were needed by deemed to be universities under Regulations, 2019. Accordingly, the Court held:
“Owing to the omission on the part of the UGC, petitioner no.2 otherwise could not have found an appropriate statutory body for filing an application seeking permission to open an Off-campus center. Hence, the right of the petitioner no.1-College to take admission of the students vested in it was wrongly denied by the impugned notice and as such the same cannot be sustained in law.”
Amendment of 2021:
Meanwhile, UGC amended Regulations, 2017 and enacted Regulations, 2021 w.e.f. 01.01.2021, which gives guidelines for application to open the Off-Campus Centre of IoE. Though petitioner college claimed the same were not applicable to it as it would mean applying them post facto, the court opined that status of MAHE as IoE was reviewable periodically and hence it had to file for application of opening Off-Campus Centre under 11.7 Regulations, 2021 as it cannot escape from the same.
The Court remarked that “it appears that the petitioners are the victims of circumstance” and held
“I am of the considered view that after getting LoP, the petitioner no.2 was required to take permission from the Government to open an off-campus centre, however, the same could not have been taken as in the meantime the petitioner no.2 was declared as an IoE and Regulations, 2017 did not contain any such procedure for grant of permission to open off-campus centre. Hence, the right of the petitioner no.1-College to take admission of the students vested in it was wrongly denied by the impugned notice and as such the same cannot be sustained in law.”
In conclusion, while the court in the interest of the students enrolled at the off-campus center set aside the impugned notice it also directed the petitioner college to make an application under Regulation 11.7.1 of the Regulations, 2021 for getting post facto permission for the establishment of the Off-campus center which shall be processed by the concerned respondents expeditiously as an exceptional case.
Vaibhav Karadale | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL