The Madras High Court has come down heavily on the selection committee of Directorate of Medical Education (DME) for frequently changing the rules during the course of counselling conducted for postgraduate admissions this year. It has also directed the committee to pay damages of Rs. 2.5 lakh to a woman doctor.
Justice R. Subramanian wrote that the committee had “helped certain individuals” by issuing a notification on October 31 stating that those who had not joined in the colleges allotted to them in the first and second round of counselling would not be permitted to participate in further counselling and suddenly retracting the notification on November 2.
“There appears to be perennial confusion in the minds of the selection committee, be it intentional or accidental. The object behind the clause preventing applicants from participating in the mop-up or stray counselling is not clear. But, the subsequent happenings namely, the withdrawal within two days leaves me to firmly believe that there has been an attempt to derail the counselling process and help certain individuals,” the judge wrote.
However, not wanting to disturb the entire mop-up counselling as well as stray counselling process since any order to conduct those two counselling sessions afresh would affect as many as 223 candidates, the judge said. The petitioners, too, had approached the court belatedly on December 2, the last day of stray counselling.
Disposing of two writ petitions, one filed by a group of six doctors and another by 30 doctors, the judge found some force in the submissions of their counsel Ma.P. Thangavel that the selection committee had intentionally misled the petitioners for the benefit of certain other individuals who were waiting for the mop-up and stray counselling sessions.
Of the six petitioners in the first writ petition, three had joined the colleges allotted to them in the first round of counselling since they did not get any better allotment in the second round and therefore no prejudice had been caused to them. Similarly, two others had joined the colleges, allotted to them in the second round, on November 4 (two days after the retraction of the October 31 notification).
The only petitioner against whom certain amount of prejudice appeared to have been caused was V. Shenbaka who had joined the college allotted to her in the second round of counselling on November 2 fearing that she might not be permitted to participate in the mop-up counselling. Therefore, the judge ordered damages of Rs. 2.5 lakh to her alone.
As far as the second writ petition filed by 30 other doctors were concerned, the judge said they were fence sitters who were waiting to see the result of cases filed by other applicants and had then joined the bandwagon in support of cancelling the entire mop-up and stray counselling process. He did not find any reason to entertain their case.
“The selection committee has been highly negligent and recalcitrant in conducting the counselling... It is made clear that the selection committee shall behave in a more responsible manner at least in future and avoid such misgivings among the students,” the judge observed in the common orders passed on the two writ petitions.