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Future of non-domicile students in peril as Maharashtra changes PG medical admission rule

The arbitrary and unreasonable move of the Maharashtra government to change the eligibility criteria at the last moment for admission for post graduation in the State government medical colleges has dealt a cruel blow to about 2000 doctors as they have been rendered ineligible for admissions for being non-domiciled.
Even though the Mumbai High Court bench of Justice S S Kemkar and A M Badar stayed the order of Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) giving relief to them, the Maharashtra government has approached the Supreme Court against the stay order putting a question mark on the future of these hapless doctors who have been running from pillar to post to get justice. Their argument is that since the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) results came out in January and during the on-line counselling in April they were eligible for admission to all the government medical colleges, but now all of a sudden DMER has changed the eligibility criteria on April 28 and even published a merit list containing names of only domiciled students which is grave injustice and miscarriage of justice and fair play.
The Mumbai High court bench has held that the “change of eligibility criteria at the stage when the first selection list was to be published is in our considered view arbitrary and unreasonable.” Doctors who were under the expectation right since January 2017 that they would be eligible for admission have been rendered ineligible and would find it impossible now to apply for PG seats in any other State since the admission process is midway, the court had observed while passing orders on a plea filed by Dr Gagandeep Mahi and others against the change of eligibility rules. The High Court order has made it clear that the list should be prepared on the basis of earlier eligibility rule - which means non-domiciled graduates, too, should be included along with domiciled students. While issuing notice to the State government, the bench had observed that admission rules published before January 27, 2017 had made even non-domiciled MBBS students graduating from Maharashtra colleges with one year internship by March 31, eligible for PG admissions in the State, changing the rules mid-way was prima facie not sustainable, it said.  
According to the new resolution of the Maharashtra government, 50% of seats (state quota) in medical institutions are to be filled by domicile students. Besides, in the 35% institutional quota, 17.5% is kept aside for domiciles. Therefore, the reservation for domicile candidates is more than 67.5%. The non-domiciled students graduating from colleges of the state has now been confined to 17.5% management quota in private medical colleges. However, the HC bench has stayed this government resolution and suspended the list of domicile candidates for now.  Many of the non-domicile students from Maharashtra, who had earlier given up their seats in other states in the hope of getting admission in government medical colleges, are now have their hopes pinned on the Supreme Court. They are hoping and expect it to provide them justice and succor against the arbitrary decision of the state government.  
Describing it as a grave injustice, of the affected student Ayush said that when students had taken admission in Maharashtra colleges they were eligible for admission to the government medical colleges of the state. Moreover, after NEET examination results in January the non-domiciled students were called twice for document verification and were given written receipts stating that they were eligible for all government, private, corporate and deemed college seats in Maharashtra based on their performance in NEET.
“So, during on-line counseling I filled only government quota seats options as deemed seats are too expensive with fees ranging from minimum Rs 60 lakh to two crore for the course which is unaffordable for any middle class student. Suddenly, on Friday night a notice was issued by DMER that we are ineligible and have been shifted from category 1 to 2 making us ineligible for government seats while the quota for domiciled students have been increased from 67.5 percent. They did not give us any chance to alter my preference list. So, now since I had only applied for government seats during the on-line counseling I have no chance of getting any seat in the state which is grave injustice for student like me. Earlier, I had returned the seat in MD, Pathology in JNMC, Belgaum Karnataka as I was hopeful of getting a seat in a government medical college in Maharashtra. Now I don’t know what to do as my hard work during the entire year appears to have gone waste.”    Another student who has passed out from a government medical college of the state said that she had got admission in MBBS through the All India 15 percent quota. Though hailing from Chittorgarh in Rajasthan, she had chosen to study in Maharashtra as it has more colleges and so more PG seats. However, now being rendered ineligible at the last moment has made her stateless as Rajasthan does not give admission to students who have not done MBBS from the state.
“Today I don’t have a state quota in any state- not in my native state and not even in Maharashtra. Non-resident Maharashtrians, however, are getting a state quota in two states. If this is not discriminatory, I don’t know what is. This is a grave miscarriage of justice and today I feel like being a step daughter of India.”
Gagandeep Mahi, from BJMC Pune, said that it was a serious breach of trust on the part of DMER as he had even paid Rs 10 lakh in lieu of one year rural posting to get a chance for admission in Maharashtra colleges, but now he has been declared ineligible. “This is height of regionalism. We are not against domicile students, but consider us also.”        
Another student Varun Shukla shared that he got a seat in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in RG Kar Medical College, Kolkata. However, he chose to give up that seat as he had hoped to get a better choice in Maharashtra. But one hour after he gave back that seat, the shocking announcement from DMER came putting his future in peril.
The students find no merit in DMER director Pravin Shingare’s argument that state students should benefit from our facilities. He had said that since students from Maharashtra find it difficult to secure admissions in other states as many follow domicile policy that is why the rules have been changed. However, non-domiciled students’ argument is that if it was the case then they should have been informed while taking admission in the first year of MBBS course itself as it would have given them the choice to opt for other states as such knee jerk action at the last moment and putting their future in peril. (Annapurna Jha is a senior journalist. Views are personal.)

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