New Delhi: A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will examine whether the Medical Council of India (MCI) can allow states to reserve seats in post-graduate courses for doctors who earn incentive marks by working in government hospitals in remote or hill areas. The scheme for incentive marks has also been challenged.
A three-judge bench of Justices Kurian Joseph, M.M. Shantanagoudar and Navin Sinha on Friday referred to the Chief Justice Dipak Misra a batch of petitions filed by Tamil Nadu Medical Doctors Association (TNMDA) and others for adjudication by a larger bench.
The main dispute pertains to the claim made by Tamil Nadu last month that it can reserve PG seats in favour of government doctors serving in remote areas. The proposed quota in PG course was aimed at further incentivising government doctors for serving in rural areas.
The petitions have challenged the validity of Regulation 9(4) and (8) of the MCI’s Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000, which provides incentive marks for in-service doctors. An incentive of up to 10 per cent marks obtained for each year of service in remote and/or difficult areas or rural areas — up to maximum of 30 per cent — is provided to such doctors in National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET).
The petitioners have alleged that the regulation violates the provisions of the Constitution as its discriminates between doctors working in cities and those working in remote areas.
They have an interim stay so that admission to post-graduate courses can be made only on the basis of NEET marks and demanded that the MCI regulation granting incentive marks should be quashed.
Advocates for states and the Centre justified the regulation and pointed out that the apex court had earlier upheld incentive marks being granted to in-service doctors.
Justice Kurian in a brief referral order said that considering the importance of the issue, the matter has to be decided by a larger bench.
The bench said, “We feel it is appropriate that even the interim relief should be considered by the larger bench. Accordingly, place the matters before the Chief Justice of India for consideration by a larger bench… The petitioners are free to make a mention on Monday, April 16, before the Chief Justice of India.”