New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday refused to extend counselling time for filling up as many as 603 vacant seats in post-graduate medical courses in deemed universities and private colleges saying this would be like "opening a pandora's box".
The top court said merely because the seats are lying vacant could not be a ground to grant extension of time and further opportunity to fill up these seats.
A vacation bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant dismissed a plea of a society which claimed to represent a large number of deemed universities and colleges running post-graduate (PG) medical courses.
The society has sought extension of time to respective medical colleges/deemed universities for carrying out counselling for PG courses since around 1000 seats in these educational institutions are lying vacant.
"Merely because the seats are lying vacant, in our view, is not a ground to grant extension of time and grant further opportunity to fill up vacant seats," the bench said.
It further said, "The schedule must be followed. If we permit violation of schedule and grant extension, we shall be opening a Pandora's box and the whole purpose of fixing a time schedule and laying down a regime which strictly adheres to time schedule will be defeated."
The top court said that in the schedule prescribed by the apex court in its earlier order, there are three rounds of counselling, the first round, the second round and the mop-up round for filling up the seats of PG medical courses.
"The mop-up round was to be completed by May 31, and if some seats remain vacant even after the mop-up round it cannot be helped. Extension cannot be granted just because some seats are lying vacant without there being any other justification," the bench said.
The court noted that the petitioner Education Promotion Society of India and others wanted a general extension of time not on account of any particular difficulty faced by any individual college or university but generally on the ground that a large number of seats for the PG courses were lying vacant.
The society had contended that that more than 1000 seats were lying vacant including 603 seats in deemed universities.
"However, it is important to note that out of 603 seats lying vacant only 31 are in clinical subjects and the vast majority (572) that is almost 95 per cent of the seats are lying vacant in non-clinical subjects," the bench said and added that there is no material on record to show as to what is the situation with regard to the remaining 400-500 seats.
It said that judicial notice of the fact can be taken that every year large number of non-clinical seats remain vacant because many graduate doctors do not want to do post-graduation in non-clinical subjects.
Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the Society, contended that that these colleges have spent a huge amount of money on the infrastructure of the colleges.
He submitted that there is an acute shortage of doctors in India and due to this, the Centre has permitted increase of seats in government medical colleges without increase of infrastructure.
He said that the intention of the government is to ensure that more and more doctors pass out and treat the patients.
Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, appearing for the Centre opposed the plea of the Society and submitted that the sanctity of the earlier orders passed will be set at naught, if the petition is allowed.
The bench said, "The schedule as approved by this court provides that the declaration of result has to be done by the end of January and the first round of counselling for All India quota seats, deemed and central institutes has to be completed by March 24 and state counselling should be completed by April 5, second round of counselling by April 12 and April 26 respectively and mop-up round by May 8 for state and the May 22 for deemed universities and central institutes."
The top court said that earlier exceptions granted by the court were either specific or college/university specific passed in the peculiar facts and circumstances of each particular case and in most of the orders it is clearly mentioned that the orders shall not be treated as precedent.