Explain why you missed deadline, SC asks Karnataka on admissions for 633 MDS seats

The Karnataka government, which was responsible for the delayed counselling, tried to wash its hands off, telling the judges that the 633 candidates allotted MDS seats were told that their admission may not be regularised.
A dental college in Karnataka petitioned the Supreme Court, seeking the court’s “compassion” and a direction to the government to retrospectively extend the MDS admission cutoff. (HT Photo/Mohd Zakir)
A dental college in Karnataka petitioned the Supreme Court, seeking the court’s “compassion” and a direction to the government to retrospectively extend the MDS admission cutoff. (HT Photo/Mohd Zakir)
Published on Jan 15, 2022 12:42 AM IST
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ByAbraham Thomas

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday called for an explanation from the Karnataka government for holding counselling for the Master of Dental Surgery (MDS) course long after the cutoff date for counselling prescribed by the Centre and Dental Council of India expired.

While the deadline for MDS counselling ended on November 20, 2021, the Karnataka government conducted counselling from December 4 to 18 and filled up 633 MDS seats across institutions in the state. But the future of the 633 post-graduate dental students in Karnataka hangs in balance after the Centre and the Dental Council of India (DCI) refused to recognize the admissions, pointing that the state government did not hold counselling within the stipulated period. They told the court that an exception cannot be made for Karnataka as the academic session for MDS has already begun.

The matter reached the top court as one of the dental colleges in Karnataka filed a petition to request that the admissions be regularised.

On Wednesday, when the matter was heard by a bench of justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and AS Bopanna, the Karnataka government washed its hands off by saying that at the time of granting admissions, students were intimated of the consequences of the delayed counselling. 29 affected students also approached the court through advocate Charu Mathur seeking the court’s “compassion” and a direction to the government to retrospectively extend the MDS admission cutoff.

The students further told the court that a delay in commencement of the 2021-22 session will automatically delay the next batch, and disturb in the academic cycle. The bench agreed to consider the issue after getting the state’s response.

In its order of January 12, the bench said, “We direct the Secretary, Medical Education of the state government to file an affidavit explaining the circumstances in which the state of Karnataka breached the deadline of 20 November 2021. The affidavit shall be filed within a period of one week.” The matter has been posted for January 21. In the meantime, the court has allowed the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) and the Dental Council of India to file their respective responses.

Additional solicitor general (ASG) KM Nataraj appearing for the Centre opposed the petition filed by the Maratha Mandals Nathajirao G Halgekar Institute of Dental Sciences and Research Centre. He said that MDS counselling across the country was conducted between November 10 and November 20 and all colleges stuck to the deadline. “The state of Karnataka was aware of the fact that the cut-off date was extended only till 20 November. Now classes have also begun. No occasion arises to extend the deadline.” DCI counsel Gaurav Sharma supported this stand, underlining that an exception cannot be made for one state.

The petitioner college represented by senior advocate Shyam Divan told the court that the delay was not caused by the college as the responsibility for conducting counselling exclusively rested on the shoulders of the state government. “The state itself has delayed the process and carried out admissions beyond the deadline fixed by the Union Government. In all, 633 students have been admitted and if these admissions are not regularized, the colleges in the state will have no students for three years.”

The court noted that Karnataka did not move any application in the Supreme Court for extension of the counselliing deadline. Additional advocate general (AAG) Nikhil Goel appearing for Karnataka stated that the state did ask the Centre to extend the time but the request was rejected. In these circumstances, the court said, “we find it necessary that the Karnataka government must explain the circumstances in which it carried out admissions beyond the deadline of 20 November.”

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Friday, January 21, 2022