Today News Online Service
New Delhi, April 14
Maintaining that access to professional education is not a governmental largesse, the Supreme Court has said the state had an affirmative obligation to facilitate access to education at all levels.
“While the right to pursue higher (professional) education has not been spelt out as a fundamental right in Part III of the Constitution, it bears emphasis that access to professional education is not a governmental largesse. Instead, the state has an affirmative obligation to facilitate access to education, at all levels,” a Bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud said.
The court was dealing with a case of admission of Farzana Batool and another candidate of Ladakh in a medical college in Delhi against the central pool. In November last year, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW) had allotted one seat each at Lady Hardinge Medical College and Maulana Azad Medical College to the Union Territory of Ladakh from the central pool.
UT of Ladakh nominated Batool for admission to the two medical colleges. She moved the top court after being refused admission despite the nomination, contending that other similarly placed students were admitted to other colleges.
The top court directed that both the candidates be granted admission to the respective colleges within a week. It also directed that the other seven candidates, selected and nominated for the central pool medical seats under the February 19 notification issued by the Director of Health Services, Ladakh should also be given admission to the institutions concerned.
It asked the MHFW and the DHSL to consider appointing a nodal officer tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that students who are duly nominated under the central pool seats are in fact admitted in their chosen course of study.
“Financial hardship should not prevent the students from getting admission in terms of the allocation which has been made in their favour legitimately under the central pool seats,” the Bench said on April 9.
It underscored the importance of creating an enabling environment to make it possible for students to pursue professional education.
“This obligation assumes far greater importance for students whose background (by virtue of such characteristics as caste, class, gender, religion, disability and geographical region) imposes formidable obstacles on their path to accessing quality education,” said the Bench which also included Justice MR Shah.
Noting that India ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 1979, the top court asked the MHFW and the DHSL to ensure proper coordination so that students allocated colleges under the central pool seats are not put to hardship in enrolling once they have been duly allocated their seats.