HP HC | Vacant seats can be occupied without appearing for NEET with minimum eligibility; Court issues directions

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of L. Narayana Swamy, CJ and Jyotsna Rewal Dua, J., allowed the application to fill up vacant seats pertaining to State quota in their institutes for 2019-20 academic session of Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine & Surgery (BAMS) course, from candidates who had appeared in NEET-UG 2019 and also from students who though had not appeared in NEET, but possess minimum eligibility qualifications for BAMS course i.e. Physics, Chemistry and Biology (XII) with 50% marks.

Petitioner institute was granted no-objection certificate by the respondent-State for establishing the college with 60 seats of the undergraduate course, the grievance of the petitioner in this petition pertains to 2019-20 academic sessions of BAMS course. The eligibility criteria prescribed in the prospectus for admission in the BAMS course was NEET qualified with 50 percentile i.e. 134 marks out of the total of 720 marks. The minimum eligibility condition for admission in BAMS course was 50% marks in Class (XII) with Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Petitioner institute could not fill up all available seats especially under the All India Quota even after the first and second round of centralized counseling so respondent-State permitted conversion of All India Quota seats into State Quota seats and accordingly permitted the first mop-up round of counseling after which the petitioner college had 16 vacant seats.

The Counsels for the petitioner, K.D. Shreedhar and Shreya Chauhan, contended that the merit-list of NEET qualified candidates had already been exhausted thus the respondent state should amend the admission criteria by allowing the admission of even NEET appeared candidates instead of NEET qualified candidates; in case the institute will have to carry on the academic session without filling the 16 vacant seats then it would have an adverse impact on its functioning as it is a self-financed institute and does not receive any grant-in-aid from the Government; the survival of the institute was on the fee collected from the students; going ahead with the academic session without sanctioned intake would be detrimental to the petitioner as it would not be possible for it to maintain the quality of teaching and the huge infrastructure created for the sanctioned strength.

The Counsels for the respondents submitted that allowing the prayer of the petitioners would be against the eligibility criteria.

The Court relying on the Karnataka High Court order against the Writ Petition No. 41486 of 2018 issued similar directions which were as follows:

“(i) In the on-going counselling for the academic year 2019-20, after all NEET qualified students have made their choices and if seats remain unfilled, any other candidate who has not appeared for NEET examination, but has the minimum qualification to undergo the AYUSH courses (BAMS, BHMS and BUMS) as provided, shall be permitted to take part in the counselling.

(ii) Such of those candidates would also be intimated that their admission are being made in view of the absence of NEET qualified candidates and would ultimately remain subject to the result of these writ petitions.

(iii) It is further made clear that the process as indicated above would be applicable only to such of those institutions who are
otherwise qualified to make admissions by possessing requisite infrastructure and if the competent authorities have taken any action against any of the colleges and restrained them from making admissions for the present academic year, such of those institutions shall not make admissions by taking benefit of this order.

(iv) If any of the institutions against who action had been initiated has secured an interim order permitting admissions and have already participated in the counselling, such institutions are eligible for making admissions in terms of this order.”

Hence, the petition was disposed of in view of the above terms. [Abhilashi Ayurvedic College and Research Institute v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine HP 2024, decided on 27-11-2019]

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