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Article 14 in The Constitution Of India 1949
Maneka Gandhi vs Union Of India on 25 January, 1978
Ramana Dayaram Shetty vs The International Airport ... on 4 May, 1979
Article 32 in The Constitution Of India 1949
Chithra Ghosh & Another vs Union Of India And Others on 25 April, 1969
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Mrs. Dr. Tapati Sengupta And Ms. ... vs Enforcement Officer, ... on 13 August, 1997
Tarak Singh And Ors. vs Jyoti Basu And Anr. on 5 February, 1999
Unni Krishnan, J.P. And Ors. Etc. ... vs State Of Andhra Pradesh And Ors. ... on 4 February, 1993
Surendra Kijmar vs State Of B1Har & Ors on 9 November, 1984
File Of The Central ... vs By Advs.Sri.O.V.Radhakrishnan ...

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Supreme Court of India
Suman Gupta And Others Etc vs State Of J & K And Others on 19 September, 1983
Equivalent citations: 1983 AIR 1235, 1983 SCR (3) 985
Author: R Pathak
Bench: Pathak, R.S.
           PETITIONER:
SUMAN GUPTA AND OTHERS ETC.

	Vs.

RESPONDENT:
STATE OF J & K AND OTHERS

DATE OF JUDGMENT19/09/1983

BENCH:
PATHAK, R.S.
BENCH:
PATHAK, R.S.
CHANDRACHUD, Y.V. ((CJ)
MUKHARJI, SABYASACHI (J)

CITATION:
 1983 AIR 1235		  1983 SCR  (3) 985
 1983 SCC  (4) 339	  1983 SCALE  (2)305
 CITATOR INFO :
 R	    1985 SC  87	 (11)
 RF	    1986 SC1224	 (2,27,29)


ACT:
     Constitution of  India, Art.  14-Powers and  procedures
resulting in  unfairness and arbitrariness-violative of Art.
14.
     Administrative Law-Vesting of absolute and uncontrolled
power in public authority-Falls outside the Constitution and
invalid.



HEADNOTE:
     With a  view to  encourage national  integration, a few
States	including   respondent	 states	  agreed   upon	  an
arrangement by	which a	 certain percentage  of the seats in
medical colleges  was reserved	for  candidates	 from  other
States on  a reciprocal	 basis.	 In  the  year	1982-83	 the
respondent States  made some  nominations  under  the  above
arrangement.  The   validity  of   these   nominations	 was
challenged in  these writ petitions and civil appeals on the
ground, inter  alia, that these nominations had been made by
the  State  Governments	 in  their  absolute  and  arbitrary
discretion, without reference to any objective criterion, or
any controlling norms or guidelines.
     Partly allowing the writ petitions and the appeals,
^
     HELD: The principle adopted by the State Governments of
nominating  candidates	in  their  absolute  and  unfettered
choice to  seats in  Medical Colleges  outside the  State is
invalid. But  the  nominations	already	 made  will  not  be
affected. [991 F-G; E]
     The exercise  of all  administrative  power  vested  in
public authority  must be  structured  within  a  system  of
controls informed  by both relevance and reason-relevance in
relation to  the object	 which it seeks to serve, and reason
in regard  to the manner in which attempts to do so. Art. 14
of the	Constitution is	 violated by  powers and  procedures
which in  themselves result in unfairness and asbitrariness.
There is  no doubt that in the realm of administrative power
the element  of discretion  may properly,  find place, where
the statute or the nature of the power intends so. But there
is a  well recognised  distinction between an administrative
power  to   be	exercised   within  defined  limits  in	 the
reasonable  discretion	 of  designated	 authority  and	 the
vesting of  an	absolute  and  uncontrolled  power  in	such
authority. One	is power  controlled by	 law countenanced by
the Constitution,  the other  falls outside the Constitution
altogether. Proceeding from there, it is evident that if the
State
986
Government desires  to advance	the  objective	of  national
integration it	must adopt  procedures which  are reasonable
and are related to the objective. In this Age of Reason, all
law must measure upto that standard, and necessarily so also
must all executive acts. [989 E-F; 989 G; 990 A-D]
     In the present cases, viewed in this context and tested
on the touchstone of our constitutional values, the claim of
the State  Government that  the nature	of the objective and
the means  adopted to  serve it	 entitle it  legitimately to
vest in	 itself an absolute power in choosing candidates for
nomination  is	to  deny  a  fundamental  principle  of	 our
constitutional life  and cannot	 be allowed to prevail. [990
D-E]
     Chitra Ghosh  and Anr.  v. Union  of  India  and  Ors.,
[1970] 1  S.C.R., 413, 420; Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India,
[1978] 2  S.C.R. 621;  and  Ramana  Dayaram  Shetty  v.	 The
International Airport  Authority of  India &  Ors., [1979] 3
S.C.R. 1015, referred to.
     The Medical Council of India is directed to formulate a
proper constitutional basis for determining the selection of
candidates for	nomination  to	seats  in  Medical  Colleges
outside the State in the light of the observations contained
in this	 judgment. Until  a  policy  is	 so  formulated	 and
concrete criteria  are embodied	 in the	 procedure selected,
the  nominations  shall	 be  made  by  selecting  candidates
strictly on  the basis	of merit,  the candidates  nominated
being those,  in  order	 of  merit,  immediately  below	 the
candidates selected for admission to the Medical Colleges of
the home State. [991 G-H; 992 A]



JUDGMENT:

ORIGINAL JURISDICTION: Writ Petition Nos. 9078 to 9106, 9025-43 of 1982, 24 & 35. 43-46 and 2839 of 1983.

(Under article 32 of the Constitution of India). WITH Civil Appeal Nos. 3812 & 3813 of 1983.

Appeals by Special leave from the Judgement and Order dated the 31st December, 1982 of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in W.P. Nos. 6844 of 1982 & 6937 of 1982.

AND (CMP. Nos. 13616, 16617, 22151, 22125 & 23486 of 1983). For the Appearing Petitioners in Writ Petitions: M.K. Ramamurthi, Anil Dev Singh, Subhash Sharma, Satish Vig, Shri Narain, V.K. Pandita, R.D. Upadhyay and E.C. Agarwala.

987

For the Appearing Respondents in Writ Petitions: G.L. Sanghi and Mr. S.N. Kacker Altaf Ahmad and Irfan Ahmad.

A. Subba Rao for the Appellants in Civil Appeals. S.S. Ray, Vineet Kumar, T.V.S. Narasimhachari, G.V.L. Narasimha Rao and Mrs. Urmila Sirur for the Respondents in Civil Appeals.

The Judgment of the Court was delivered by PATHAK, J. This Court has had occasion in the past to entertain the complaints of several young men and women who aspired to admission to the Medical Colleges of their States and had been wrongly denied admission thereto. In the writ petitions and civil appeals now before us, the grievance voiced by the petitioners and the appellants takes us to a new category of cases and to a new dimension. They question the validity of nominations by the State Government of Jammu and Kashmir and the State Government of Andhra Pradesh of candidates to seats reserved in the Medical Colleges of other States. The civil appeals are directed against the judgment dated December 31, 1982 of the Andhra Pradesh High Court dismissing writ petitions filed by the appellants.

The Medical Council of India, in its report on under- graduate medical education, recommended that with a view to encouraging national integration, ten per cent of the seats in veery Medical College, other than those where admissions were planned on an all India basis, should be reserved, on a reciprocal basis for students from other States. At the Joint Conference of the Central Council of Health and the Central Family Welfare Council, held from December 28, 1977 to January 31, 1978, the matter was considered and a resolution was passed recommending that five per cent of the seats in Medical Colleges should be reserved for candidates from other States on a reciprocal basis. After protracted correspondence between a number of State Governments, the States of Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu agreed upon such an arrangement. It was decided that each of them would have the right to nominate candidates to seats reserved 988 in the Medical Colleges of the other participating States. We are concerned herewith nominations made by the State Government of Jammu and Kashmir and the State Government of Andhra Pradesh. Twenty two of the thirty nominations made by the State Government of Jammu and Kashmir for the year 1982- 83 have been challenged in these writ petitions and all the nominations made by the State Government of Andhra Pradesh have been assailed in the associated Civil Appeals.

The petitioners in the writ petitions and the appellants in the appeals were candidates for admission to the M.B.B.S. course of studies in the Medical Colleges of their respective States, and not having succeeded in that object, they claim that they should have been properly considered for nomination by their State Governments to the seats reserved in the Medical Colleges outside their home States because they have secured higher marks in the qualifying examination than the nominated candidates. They urge that the nominations actually made by the State Governments have been made in their absolute and arbitrary discretion, without reference to any objective criterion, or any controlling norms or guidelines. They also allege that the nominations have been influenced by the personal relationship of the candidates to persons in the ruling political party or to Government officers in positions of high authority.

The position taken by the Jammu and Kashmir Government and by the Andhra Pradesh Government is that to serve the objective of national integration the selection of a candidate has to be determined not merely by the marks obtained by him in the qualifying examination but also by his ability to project an appropriate image of the culture of his home State in the State to which he is nominated. It is submitted that no objective criterion is possible in that context, and the selection must perforce be left to the absolute and unfettered choice of the State Government. The Andhra Pradesh Government relies on G.O.M. No. 508, M & H dated July 27, 1979, which brings the scheme into effect from the academic year 1979-80. It expressly provides that the selection of candidates for such nominations is excluded from the purview of the Selection Committees constituted for admission to the M.B.B.S. Course in the States.

At the outset, we may dispose of an objection taken on behalf of the respondents. It is pointed out that the petitioners in the writ petitions and the appellants in the civil appeals applied merely for 989 admission to the Medical Colleges of the home State and have not alleged anywhere that they applied for nomination to a seat in a Medical College outside the State. It is urged that inasmuch as the scheme of nominations to Medical Colleges outside the State is distinct altogether from the scheme of admissions to Medical Colleges within the State the petitioners and the appellants are not entitled to question the validity of those nominations. We are referred to Chitra Ghosh and Another v. Union of India and Others.(1) In the civil appeals before us, however, we find that some of the appellants did apply for nomination to a seat in a Medical College outside the State. Besides, the Andhra Pradesh High Court has elaborately considered the question on its merits, and it seems desirable in the circumstances to pronounce our opinion on the controversy. The objection is overruled.

For the purpose of these cases, we shall proceed on the assumption that national integration, which is undeniably in itself a highly commendable and laudable objective, will be effectively served by a policy encouraging the admission of candidates of one State to seats in the Medical Colleges of another State. After considering the matter carefully, we confess, we are unable to subscribe to the view that the selection of candidates for that purpose must remain in the unlimited discretion and the uncontrolled choice of the State Government. We think it beyond dispute that the exercise of all administrative power vested in public authority must be structured within a system of controls informed by both relevance and reason-relevance in relation to the object which it seeks to serve, and reason in regard to the manner in which it attempts to do so. Wherever the exercise of such power affects individual rights, there can be no greater assurance protecting its valid exercise than its governance by these twin tests. A stream of case law radiating from the now well known decision of this Court in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India(2) has laid down in clear terms that.-

Article 14 of the Constitution is violated by powers and procedures which in themselves result in unfairness and arbitrariness. It must be remembered that our entire constitutional system is founded in the Rule of Law, and in any system so designed it is impossible to conceive of legitimate power which is arbitrary in character and travels beyond the bounds of reason. To contend that 990 the choice of a candidate selected on the basis of his ability to project the culture and ethos of his home State must necessarily be left to unfettered discretion of executive authority is to deny a fundamental principle of our constitutional life. We do not doubt that in the realm of administrative power the element of discretion may properly find place, where the statute or the nature of the power intends so. But there is a well recognised distinction between an administrative power to be exercised within defined limits in the reasonable discretion of designated authority and the vesting of an absolute and uncontrolled power in such authority. One is power controlled by law countenanced by the Constitution, the other falls outside the Constitution altogether. Proceeding from there, it is evident that if the State Government desires to advance the objective of national integration it must adopt procedures which are reasonable and are related to the objective. In this Age of Reason, all law must measure upto that standard, and necessarily so also must all executive acts. Viewed in this context, the claim of the State Government in these cases that the nature of the objective and the means adopted to serve it entitle it legitimately to vest in itself an absolute power in choosing candidates for nomination cannot be allowed to prevail. It is incumbent on the State Government to adopt a criterion or restrict its power by reference to norms which, while designed to achieve its object, nevertheless confine the flow of that power within constitutional limits. We are not convinced that an adequate system of standards cannot be devised for that purpose. Tested on the touchstone of our constitutional values, the claim of the State Government to the content of the power assumed by it must, in our opinion, be declared invalid.

Now, the selection of an appropriate procedure lies ordinarily within the domain of administrative policy, and when the objective can be fulfilled by more than one constitutionally valid method, the selection must be left to administrative choice. The Courts are generally concerned merely with the legal validity of the choice made. We think it desirable, therefore, to leave it to the Medical Council of India to formulate a proper constitutional basis for determining the selection of candidates for nomination to seats in Medical Colleges outside the State. The problem is one which needs to be tackled at the national level, having regard to the objective which is sought to be achieved and to the circumstance that it calls for reciprocal arrangements between Medical Colleges throughout the 991 country. Until a policy is so formulated and adopted and concrete criteria are embodied in the procedure to be selected, we direct that nominations be made by following the procedure of selecting candidates strictly on the basis of merit, the candidates nominated being those, in order of merit, immediately next below the candidates selected for admission to the Medical Colleges of the home State.

Before concluding it is desirable to advert to the contention raised on behalf of the respondents that as the State Government finances medical education within the State it is entitled to exercise an absolute discretion in the nomination of candidates to seats in Medical Colleges outside the State, specially when the nomination is part of a reciprocal arrangement between the different States. In our opinion, the contention cannot be regarded as valid in view of what has been laid down now by this Court in Ramana Dayaram Shetty v. The International Airport Authority of India and Ors.(1) Considerable and vehement argument has been addressed on behalf of the petitioners and the appellants that we should make an order revoking the nominations already made by the Jammu and Kashmir Government and the Andhra Pradesh Government. We do not propose to do so. The State Government proceeded in the bona fide belief that the procedure adopted by it was just and proper, the basis being one which appears to have been uniformly adopted by all the participating States. Besides, the candidates nominated have already covered a substantial part of their course of studies. These considerations considered cumulatively dissuade us from interfering with the nominations already made.

In the result, we allow the writ petitions and the civil appeals insofar that the principle adopted by the State Governments of nominating candidates in their absolute and unfettered choice to seats in Medical Colleges outside the State is declared invalid. The Medical Council of India is directed to formulate a proper constitutional basis for determining the selection of candidates for nomination to seats in Medical Colleges outside the State in the light of the observations contained in this judgment. Until a policy is so formulated and concrete criteria are embodied in the procedure selected, the nominations shall be made by selecting candidates strictly on the basis of merit, the candidates nominated being those, 992 in order of merit, immediately below the candidates selected for admission to the Medical Colleges of the home State. The judgment dated December 31, 1982 of the Andhra Pradesh High Court is modified accordingly. In the circumstances of these cases, we make no order as to costs.

A copy of this judgment and order shall be sent to the Medical Council of India.

H.S.K. Appeals & Petition partly allowed.

993