J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed a Madras High Court order directing Chettinad Medical College, a private self-financing institution, to surrender 65 per cent of its seats to the Government. In Chennai, the Directorate of Medical Education withheld allotment orders for 62 students who had appeared for counselling for the seats in Chettinad Medical College.

The High Court, in its common judgment on July 12, struck down the provisions on seat sharing but held that the ruling would be effective only from next year.

A Bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal and Justice P.P. Naolekar stayed the High Court judgment so far as Dr. Rajah Muthiah Chettiar Charitable and Educational Trust, which runs the college was concerned. It said, “Prima facie we are of the view that when certain provisions having been struck down by the High Court, a question may arise as to whether the High Court was justified in passing such an order. In view of this, we direct that notice be issued to the respondents.”

“No power”

When senior counsel Arun Jaitley, appearing for the college, said that the High Court had directed that admissions be made on the basis of the law that had been struck down, the Bench said, “The High Court has no such power to declare prospective operation. Only the apex court has such a power.”

Senior counsel A.K. Ganguly, appearing for the State, submitted that such a direction was issued on the basis of a consensual agreement. He said 160 engineering colleges, members of the Consortium, had given their consent in writing.

When Mr. Jaitley pointed out that no such undertaking was given by the Chettinad College, Mr. Ganguly said that of the three private medical colleges, two had agreed for the arrangement on seat sharing.

The Bench told Mr. Ganguly “When you say there is agreement, where is the need for a law. If you say there is legislative command {to private colleges} to provide 65 per cent of the seats, you can even fix 99.9 per cent seats to be surrendered. Can you compel those colleges, who had not signed the agreement, to surrender the seats by legislative command? This is completely against the ‘Inamdar’ judgment.”