By Rajiv Shukla
NEW DELHI : On Saturday, April 7 Kerala Governor P
Sathasivam averted a major head-on clash between an year
old Left Democratic Front (LDF)
coalition government of Kerala and the Centre, and at the
same time with the apex judiciary.
The Governor declined to approve
the Kerala Professional Colleges (Regulation and
Admission in Medical Colleges) Bill 2018 which sought to
legalise admissions made by two
private medical colleges, openly defying the MCI and the
Supreme Court orders.
The Bill sought to regularise 180 MBBS admissions made
in 2016-17 by
two private medical colleges owned by minority
heavy-weights. The admissions, made by Kannur
medical college and Karuna Medical College, were declared
illegal by the MCI as well as the Apex Court.
"I hereby withhold the assent to this bill," said
the order from the Governor's office to the state
government. The Governor, who is a former Chief Justice
of India, took the call based on legal advice in
addition to taking into consideration the dissent notes
from government secretaries. He withheld his assent
invoking his discretionary powers under Article 200 of
Earlier in the morning, a BJP delegation had met the
Governor seeking to refuse his nod for the legislation.
Senior Congress leader VM Sudheeran also had urged the
Governor to decline the bill.
As per legal advice received by the Governor's
office, the bill would not have stood legal scrutiny in
the wake of the SC verdict. Sources said the Governor
has made clear that the Supreme Court had mentioned
about the conditions to be followed during admissions.
The Supreme Court had on April 5, 2018 nullified the
Kerala Professional Colleges (Regulation and Admission
in Medical Colleges) Ordinance 2017 on an appeal by the
MCI. Seeing the fate of the Ordinance, the state
government hurriedly passed the bill and sent it to the
Governor for approval.
On March 28, the Supreme Court had rejected a review
petition filed by the state government to invalidate
cancellations of the admissions in these two colleges as
per a 2016 Kerala high court order. The high court had
found that the colleges were not transparent about their
admission procedures and cited the scuttling of chances
of meritorious students in favour of those who were not
as the grounds for the cancelling admissions.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and
health minister K.K. Shylaja, who oversee the admission
process, said the logic behind the bill was humanitarian
considerations to save the academic life of innocent
students penalized for probable technical errors of the
The admissions were first set aside in October 2016 by
an official panel headed by retired Justice J.M. James.
On 27 March, Deccan Chronicle reported that
another official, who was tasked with advising on
whether to regularize the disputed seats had recommended
against the regularization.
Based on documents obtained using Right to Information,
the newspaper report said that the official’s findings
included profiteering in the seats by these colleges,
which is illegal in India.
The government then asked the law department to take a
look at the situation, which came up with a report
The government decided to follow the legal opinion of
the law department.
On 31 January, the state cabinet agreed to regularizing
the seats in the two colleges after fining them at a
rate of Rs 3 lakh per student for irregularities in the
On April 5, the Supreme Court stayed the Kerala
Professional Colleges (Regularization of Admission in
Medical Colleges) Ordinance 2017 [Ordinance No.21 of
2017], promulgated by the Kerala government to save
admissions to Kannur Medical College and Karuna Medical
College by nullifying judicial orders.
"No student shall be permitted to reap any benefit of any
action taken and they shall not be permitted to attend
the college or the classes or continue in medical
colleges in any manner pursuant to ordinance," the
Supreme Court order said.
The two judge Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and UU Lalit
observed that prima facie the Ordinance in question
blatantly seeks to nullify the binding effect of the
order passed by the Supreme Court.
The court said :
“Prima facie it was not open to declare this Court’s
order as void or ineffective as was sought to be done by
way of ordnance. We place on record that we had scanned
the documents regarding admission in the first round of
litigation and the case was heard at length for several
days. Hard copies were also placed before us; whereafter
we rendered the decision after considering that
admissions were not given to the students in accordance
with law and approved the decision of regulatory
committee effective. Thus, it was prima facie not open to
sit over the judgment and validate those very admissions
and to venture into regularising them”.
The bench also made it clear that no student shall be
permitted to reap any benefit of any action taken and
they shall not be permitted to attend the college or the
classes or continue in medical colleges in any manner
pursuant to ordinance.
The ordinance was notified on October 20, 2017, and
suffers from apparent constitutional infirmities.
Kannur Medical College is a self-financing institution,
run by a private trust, Prestige Educational Trust.
Likewise, Karuna Medical College is run by a private
trust namely Safe Development Alms Trust. From 2016-17
onwards, admissions to medical college seats had to be
done on the basis of NEET merit list after following
common counseling process. Regarding the admission
process, the high court had passed directions on
26.08.2016 in W.P(c) 28041/16. It was directed that
applications for admission should be received only
through online mode and such applications shall be
uploaded for the scrutiny of the Admission Supervisory
Committee immediately on the expiry of the last date for
submission of applications. It was further directed that
the admission process should be proceeded with only on
the basis of a prospectus, for which approval of the
Admission Supervisory Committee has been obtained.
The Admission Supervisory Committee is a statutory body
under the Kerala Professional Colleges or Institutions
(Prohibition of Capitation Fee, Regulation of Admission,
Fixation of Non-exploitative fee and Other Measures to
Ensure Equity and Excellence in Professional Education)