R.S. Narula, J.
1. I propose to dispose of 31 connected writ petitions (C. Ws. Nos. 1894, 1931, 1973, 1977, 1981, 1983 to 1990, 2004, 2006, 2016 to 2024, 2026, 2027, 2029 to 2031, 2039 and 2052 of 1972) by this common judgment as in fact only two out of all these petitions were argued before us on identical grounds and those arguments were adopted on behalf of the petitioners in the other cases. As there is no material difference between the relevant facts of the remaining cases, reference has been made in the course of this judgment to the record of Civil Writ 1894 of 1972 only. The crucial point on which counsel for the parties have focused their arguments in these petitions filed by 31 B. Sc., degree holders who are candidates for admission to the M. B. B. S. course of the Government Medical Colleges in the State of Punjab, is whether the innovation made by the respective Universities to which those colleges are affiliated restricting the consideration of the claims for admission to only such first class Science degree holder candidates who secured at least 60 per cent. marks in the Science Subjects in the Pre-medical Examination (or other recognised equivalent examination) is or is not hit by Article 14 of the Constitution when Under-Graduate candidates who secured 50 per cent.. or above (even less than 60 per cent..) marks in the Pre-Medical Examination are eligible for consideration for admission to the said course.
2. There are only two Government Medical Colleges in the State of Punjab, one at Amritsar and the other at Patiala. The Amritsar College is affiliated to the Guru Nanak University and the Patiala College is affiliated to the Punjabi University. Admission to both the Colleges is made jointly in order of merit out of eligible candidates whose names are arranged in the prescribed order. The number of seats at both these Medical Colleges taken together is 300. 50 per cent.. of those seats are reserved for different categories of candidates (Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes, Central Government nominees, women candidates etc.) the rest of the 50 per cent. seats have to be filled by open merit. According to the relevant regulations which were in force till the last year, admission to the M. B. B. S. course was open to any student who had attained the age of 17 years on October 1, of the year of admission to the Medical College, and who had passed not less than 18 months previously with at least 50 per cent. marks in the Science subjects, either the Intermediate Science (Medical Group) Examination, or the Pre-Medical Examination, or the B. Sc. Final Examination, or any other Examination recognised by the Syndicate of the University as equivalent to the Pre-Medical Examination.
A person who had passed the Pre-Medical or equivalent examination with less than 50 per cent. marks was also eligible for admission to the course if he had passed either the B. Sc., Examination (with Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology) in the First Division, or the M. Sc. Examination in any one of those subjects in the First Division. The test of the conditions for admission to the course prevalent in the previous year are not relevant for our purposes. They are contained in the copy of the extract from the Panjab University Calendar filed as Annexure 'A'. In April, 1972, the Punjabi University, Patiala, is stated to have amended its relevant statute. The Guru Nanak University, Amritsar, also carried out the same amendments in June, 1972. A copy of the relevant statute of the Guru Nanak University has been placed before us and has been marked Annexure R-1. The relevant portion of the said statute is in the same terms as in the advertisement which appeared in the daily English 'Tribune', dated June 11, 1972 (Annexure 'B') wherein applications for admission to the course in question were invited from eligible candidates. The relevant part of the advertisement was in the following words:--
'Minimum qualifications for admission are:--Pre-Medical/F. Sc. (Medical Group) of Guru Nanak/Punjabi/ Panjab University or an equivalent examination from any other university recognised by Guru Nanak/ Punjabi University, with at least 50% marks (aggregate) in the essential subjects Viz., English, Physics, chemistry and Biology, M. Sc./B. Sc. with at least 60% marks in essential subjects are also eligible, provided they have also passed the Pre-Medical/F. Sc. (Medical Group) in 1st Division i.e., with at least 60% marks or more in essential subjects.'
The above-quoted portion of the advertisement is based on paragraph 6(iii) of the statute Annexure R-1. According to the statute, the professional examination of the M.B.B.S. Course is open to any student who attains the age of 17 years on December 31 of the year of his admission to the Medical College, and who has passed not less than 18 months previously either the Pre-Medical or equivalent examination with at least 50 per cent.. marks in the essential subjects, or:--
'A person who has passed B. Sc. examination with any three subjects out of Physics, Chemistry, Botany, Zoology, Human Anatomy, Human Physiology and Bio-chemistry, and has obtained at least 60% marks in the aggregate of essential subjects or M. Sc. examination with at least 60% marks in any one of the subjects mentioned above, provided he/she has passed his/her pre-Medical examination also with at least 60% marks in aggregate in the essential subjects of English, Physics, Chemistry (including Organic) and Biology.'
3. A copy of the printed brochure 'for admission to 1st year M. B. B. S. Class, 1972, Government Medical Colleges, Amritsar, and Patiala' has also been filed before us by Shri Jawahar Lal Gupta Advocate during the course of hearing of arguments. The same has been placed on record and marked Annexure 'D'. Paragraph 3 of the brochure is in practically the same terms as the extract from the statute which has already been quoted above. Annexure 'C' to the writ petition is the copy of a communication, dated May 19, 1972, from the Secretary to the Government, Punjab, addressed to the Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak University, Amritsar, laying down the criteria for admissions to the Medical Colleges. After referring to the order in which preference was being given to candidates for admission in the M. B. B. S. course previously it was stated as below:--
'Government have reconsidered the whole issue of admission to Medical Colleges. In view of the fact that B. Sc. candidates had gained undue preponderance over those coming after doing pre-Medical/F. Sc. (Medical Group) Examination, in the year 1971, Government have after due consideration, modified the existing policy to the extent that in future only such M. Sc./B. Sc. 1st Class candidates will be eligible for admission to M. B. B. S. Class as have obtained not less than 60% marks in compulsory subjects in Pre-Medical/F. Sc.(Medical Group) Examination also.'
In paragraph 3 of that communication, the Guru Nanak University was asked to have the prospectus of the Medical College amended accordingly. Whereas the Punjabi University had already made such amendments, the Guru Nanak University appears to have followed the same course on the above-mentioned suggestion of the Punjab Government.
4. All the 31 petitioners had passed the recognised Pre-Medical Examination securing less than 60 per cent.. marks. With the exception of three persons, all of them had passed the said examination in 1970. Out of the remaining three one had passed the Pre-Medical Examination in 1968 and two in 1969. All of them passed the B. Sc. Examination (of which result was declared on June 17, 1972) securing more than 60 per cent.. marks. Each of the petitioners submitted his application on the prescribed form for admission to the M. B. B. S. Course on the basis of the First Class B. Sc. degree obtained by him. In a letter sent by the principal of the Medical College, Amritsar, to each of the petitioners, it was stated that his claim for admission 'on B. Sc. basis' could not be admitted since his marks in essential subjects in the Pre-Medical Examination were less than 60 per cent.. A specimen copy of such a letter has been placed on the record and marked 'E'.
5. Counsel for both the Universities (Punjabi and Guru Nanak) made it clear at the outset that B. Sc. degree-holders like the petitioners who have secured less than 60 per cent.. but more than 50 per cent.. marks in the Pre-Medical Examination can also be considered on the basis of their performance in the Pre-Medical Examination along with Pre-Medical (Pass) Candidates. The plea has been specifically taken in writing in the return of the Guru Nanak University in the following words:--
'If the petitioner wants to compete on the basis of his F. Sc./Pre-Medical degree then there is no discrimination as he can be considered on the basis of the criteria of minimum 50 per cent.. marks in Pre-Medical/F. Sc.'
Mr. Gupta first thought that a First Class degree-holder with less than 60 per cent.. marks in the Pre-Medical Examination is not at all eligible for consideration, but later argued the case on the assumption that this was a concession made by counsel under instructions from their clients. Paragraph 11 of the brochure gives the order in which preference has to be given to candidates for admission in the following words:
(1) M. Sc./B. Sc. Ist Class students i.e. those who obtain 60 per cent.. or more marks in the compulsory subjects provided:--
(a) They have passed B. Sc. with English as one of their subjects according to old regulations or any of three subjects viz. Botany, Zoology, Chemistry, Physics, Physiology, Human Anatomy, Biochemistry according to the new regulations.
(b) They have passed the Pre-Medical examination or an equivalent examination of a recognised University with at least 60 per cent.. marks in essential subjects of English, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
(ii) Pre-Medical/ F. Sc. (Medical Group) students will be admitted according to the marks obtained by them in Pre-Medical/F. Sc. (Medical Group) Examination. The order of merit will be adjusted after deducting the marks obtained by the candidates in the additional optional subjects from the total marks obtained by them.'
6. Though many grounds had initially been taken up these writ petitions, the only ground pressed at the hearing of these cases, has been formulated in the petition of Man Mohan in the following words :
'...........While the category possessing higher qualifications is required to secure 60 per cent.. marks at both the stages, i.e., in the higher examination as well as the lower examination, the category possessing the qualification of only Pre-Medical is required to possess only 50 per cent.. marks. This action, besides being discriminatory is absolutely arbitrary and has no nexus whatsoever with any object that the Government may have in view. The action thus violates Article 14 of the Constitution and cannot as such be sustained.'
7. In reply to the above-quoted ground of attack against the impugned portion of the relevant University statue, the Guru Nanak University has averred in its written statement as follows:--
'It is submitted that the basic qualifications for purpose of admission to the Medical Colleges has always been F. Sc./Pre-Medical, but in view of the earlier Ordinance B. Sc. candidates used to gain undue preponderance over the F. Sc./Pre-Medical candidates. Apart from that a younger candidate after obtaining an M.B.B.S. degree can further afford to do some specialisation in the field of Medicine. In the interest of efficiency in the profession, the proposal of the State Government was accepted by the University and the new Ordinance has been brought into existence.__ __ __ __ __ __ __
The B. Sc. candidates and F. Sc./Pre-Medical candidates from two separate classes. Separate criteria for admission can be made for two separate classes. If the petitioner wants to compete on the basis of his F. Sc./Pre-Medical degree then there is no discrimination as he can be considered on the basis of the criteria of minimum 50 per cent.. marks in Pre-Medical / F.Sc. But if he wants to be considered on the basis of his B. Sc., then he forms a separate class and he must possess 60 per cent.. minimum marks in his F. Sc./Pre-Medical Examination before he is eligible for consideration.'
8. Mr. Jawahar Lal Gupta, who addressed the main arguments on the side of the petitioners, contended that the impugned provision which excludes from consideration the First Class B. Sc. degrees of candidates who secured less than 60 per cent.. marks in the Pre-Medical Examination is unconstitutional because the differntia on which is based the classification between the First Class Graduates securing at least 60 per cent.. marks in the Pre-Medical Examination or simple Pre-Medical pass candidates securing at least 50 per cent.. marks on the one hand and First Class Graduates securing less than 60 per cent.. marks in the Pre-Medical Examination on the other has no reasonable relation to or nexus with the object sought to be achieved by the statute containing the rules for admission to the M. B. B. S. Course. Counsel referred to the following passage in the judgment of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in J. Pandurangarao v. The Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission, Hyderabad, AIR 1963 SC 268, and submitted that the second essential test prescribed therein which must be satisfied to successfully ward off an attack (against the validity of a statutory provision or rule) under Article 14 of the Constitution is not at all satisfied in the instant case :--
'When any impugned rule or statutory provision is assailed on the ground that it contravenes Article 14, its validity can be sustained if two tests are satisfied. The first test is that the classification on which it is founded must be based on an intelligible differentia which distinguishes persons or things grouped together from others left out of the group; and the second is that the differentia in question must have a reasonable relation to the object sought to be achieved by the rule or statutory provision in question.'
9. Mr. Gupta emphasised that though classification can be based on different considerations, there must be always be some nexus between the basis of the classification and the object intended to be achieved by the statute. For that proposition he relied on the basic authority of the Supreme Court in Ram Krishna Dalmia v. Justice S. R. Tendolkar, 1959 SCR 279 (corresponding to AIR 1958 SC 538). In J. Pandurangarao's case, AIR 1963 SC 268(supra), the impugned rule which had introduced a classification between one class of Advocates and the rest of the Advocates was struck down as irrational, inasmuch as it was found that there was no nexus between the basis of the said classification and the object intended to be achieved by the relevant scheme of the rules framed by the Governor of Andhra Pradesh under Article 234 and proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution, providing, inter alia, the impugned special qualification of actual practice as an Advocate in the Andhra Pradesh High Court as distinguished from such practice in other High Courts.
10. The next case decided by the Supreme Court to which Mr. Gupta referred is A. Periakaruppan v. State of Tamil Nadu, AIR 1971 SC 2303. More than one petitions filed under Article 32 of the Constitution were disposed of by the Supreme Court by that judgment. The division of the State of Tamil Nadu into six units for admission to the Government Medical Colleges in the state was successfully assailed by the candidates for admission to the M.B.B.S. Course on the ground that whereas the object intended to be achieved in laying down the criteria for admission to the Medical Colleges was to select the best candidates for admission to those Colleges, the classification of candidates into different units had no reasonable nexus with the above-mentioned object intended to be achieved by the Government. It was reiterated by their Lordships that before a classification can be justified against an attack under Article 14 of the Constitution, it must be shown to be based on an objective criterion, and it must further be shown that the said criterion has reasonable nexus with the object intended to be achieved by laying down the same.
11. The last judgment of the Supreme Court to which Mr. Gupta invited our attention also relates to attack under Article 14 of the Constitution against a statutory rule made for governing admissions to a Medical College. That judgment was given in the State of Andhra Pradesh v. U. S. V. Balaram, AIR 1972 SC 1375. The reservation of 40 per cent.. seats of M.B.B.S. Course for the Higher Secondary Course (Multipurpose) candidates after the holding of the entrance test was held to be discriminatory as it could result in denying admission to the Pre-University candidates who might have got higher marks than some of the Higher Secondary Course candidates. Rule 9 of the Rules relating to the selection of candidates for admission to the integrated M.B.B.S. Course whereunder the above-mentioned provision had been made, was declared by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh to be invalid (and that part of the judgment of the High Court was upheld by the Supreme Court) on the ground that though the Pre-University Course and the Higher Secondary Course candidates had otherwise been placed at par, so far as eligibility for admission to the M.B.B.S. Course was concerned, invidious discrimination had been made by denying admission to the Pre-University Course candidates who might have got higher marks than some of the Higher Secondary Candidates who could get admission because of the 40 per cent.. reservation made for them.
It was held that though it is open to the State to prescribe the sources from which the candidates are declared eligible for applying for admission to the Medical Colleges, but when once a common entrance test has been prescribed for all the candidates on the basis of which selection is to be made, the rule providing further that 40 per cent.. of the seats will have to be reversed for the Higher Secondary Course candidates is arbitrary, firstly because there cannot be any valid classification of Pre-University Course and Higher Secondary Course candidates, after a common test has been prescribed, and secondly, because such classification has no reasonable relation to the object sought to be achieved, namely selecting the best candidates for admission to the Medical Colleges.
12. Mr. D. N. Awasthy, Advocate, who not only adopted Mr. Jawahar Lal Gupta's arrangement but reinforced them, and made some additional submissions on the same point, referred to the Division Bench judgment of the Orissa High Court in Abodha Kumar Mohapatra v. State of Orissa, AIR 1969 Orissa 80, wherein the directive issued by the Orissa Government for selecting the candidates for admission to the M.B.B.S. Course out of students securing 50 per cent. and above marks in the Medical Group subjects according to merit from the respective regions tagged to the individual Government Medical Colleges, and directing that the remaining seats would be filled up by meritorious students from other regions was held to violate the equality clause of the Constitution, and was struck down as being hit by Article 14 of the constitution. It was held that there is no nexus between the territorial distribution and the object to be achieved, namely admission of the best talent on the basis of merit judged by marks obtained by the candidates in the Science subjects.
Mr. Awasthy laid some emphasis on two peculiar aspects of his client's case. It was pointed out that Amarjit Singh, petitioner in Civil Writ 1931 of 1972, secured 59.2 per cent. marks in the Pre-Medical Examination in 1970, and though he was entitled to be considered for admission along with other Pre-Medical pass candidates who had secured more than 50 per cent. marks, he was not permitted to apply for admission as he had not attained the age of 17 years by then. Whereas at that time he was forced to join the B.Sc., course in order to further improve his chances of admission to the M.B.B.S. course according to the rule then in vogue now that he has secured First Division in B. Sc. and wants to be considered with other First Division Science Graduates for admission to the course in question, he has been told that the cannot be so considered because he secured less than 60 per cent. marks in the Pre-Medical Examination in 1970. Mr. Awasthy further argued that the petitioner having joined and passed B. Sc. in the hope of improving his chances admission according to the rules prevalent in 1970, he could not be told just when the time for admission has arrived that the University has changed the relevant rule to this detriment a few days earlier. In the view I am inclined to take of the main point raised in these cases, I do not think it necessary to deal with these marginal establishment of the case of Mr. Awasthy's client.
13. Mr. D. N. Awasthy lastly submitted that the very object of the formation of the Punjabi University and the Guru Nanak University, as disclosed in Section 4(1) of the respective statues, constituting them (The Punjabi University Act, 35 of 1961, and the Guru Nanak University Amritsar Act, 21 of 1969) is to make provision for imparting education and for promoting research in the humanities, learned professions, sciences, etc., and it cannot, therefore, be denied that it is the duty of the Universities to admit the best and most highly qualified available students (subject to the prescribed age restrictions) for all courses of study. The Universities are founded generally for the promotion of higher education and research, and according to Mr. Awasthy it is conducive to the attainment of that object that persons with higher relevant educational qualifications and maturer age, who are otherwise eligible for admission to the Professional Colleges should be preferred to candidates with lower academic qualifications.
14. Mr. Joginder Singh Wasu, the learned Advocate-General for the State of Punjab, who also appeared for the Punjabi University as well as Mr. Kuldip Singh, Bar-at Law who addressed us on behalf of the Guru Nanak University, had to admit that the object sought to be achieved by the relevant statutes of the respective Universities was to admit the best talent out of the candidates available for admission to the M.B.B.S. Course on the basis of merit. It was also not disputed that the number of seats to be filled by merit being only 150 and the applicants for the same being more than 1,200, the merit for admission has to be judged by the quality and standard of educational qualifications of the candidates in the relevant subjects. Mr. Wasu, however, insisted that the best way to find our the relative merit of the contesting candidates is to see the position secured by a particular candidate as compared with the others in the Pre-Medical Examination which forms in qualifying test for admission to the course in question. I am unable to find any force in this submission of the learned Advocate-General. Nor does the impugned rule appear to be based on this doctrine. The qualifying marks for consideration for admission of Pre-Medical (Pass) candidates are 50 per cent.
If a candidate has the additional qualification of being a First Class Graduate in Science (with higher qualifications in subjects relevant for the Medical Course), his higher qualification cannot be taken into consideration unless he secured 60 per cent marks in the Pre-Medical. Lesser percentage of marks (50%) obtained by a candidate in the lower examination are entitled to be considered, but if one has got an additional and higher qualification of a better quality, he is prohibited from having that qualification considered for admission even if in Pre-medical he had more than 50% marks, unless he had at least 60 per cent. therein. A candidate who obtains 60 per cent. marks in his B. Sc. is, according to the rule, entitled to be considered on the basis of his B. Sc. degree only if he secured at least 60 per cent. marks in the Pre-medical but the B. Sc. degree of a candidate who has obtained 75 per cent. marks in B.Sc., and might have topped amongst all the B. Sc. candidates in the University has to be ignored for admission if he happens to obtain less than 60 per cent. marks in Pre-Medical. There does not appear to me to be either any logic in this formula or any rational connection of his rule with the object of admitting the best and most highly qualified available candidates to the M.B.B.S. Course.
15. The learned Advocate-General then referred at length to the report of Dr. T. R. Sharma, Head of the Department of Education and Community Services, Punjabi University, Patiala, about the investigation into the relative performance in Medical studies of Pre-Medical and B. Sc. (pass) students from the relevant file of the Punjabi University which was with him. The Senate of the Punjabi University had in its meeting held on August 7, 1971, resolved to appoint a Committee to examine the whole issue of admission to the Medical Colleges in order to assess the need for revision of the then prevalent mode and criterion for admission as it was felt that in terms of the criterion following in that year B. Sc. pass candidates en bloc gained undue preponderance over those coming after passing the Pre-Medical examination. Dr. Sharma's report says that the Vice-Chancellor wanted to get analysed the results and to take into account the relative performance in Medical studies of those two categories of candidates, namely, B. Sc. (Pass) and Pre-Medical (Pass) admitted to M.B.B.S. Course in the Medical Colleges over the past four or five years. The Study was undertaken by Dr. Sharma in pursuance of the said direction of the Vice-Chancellor.
16. Great pains appear to have been taken by Dr. T. R. Sharma for collecting the relevant data and tabulating the same. The conclusions (which are relevant for our purposes) arrived at by him from an analysis of the Pre-Medical and B. Sc. results of the Punjab, Punjabi and Guru Nanak Universities are quoted below verbatim:--
'(i) The total number of students appearing at Pre-Medical and B. Sc. (Medical Group) examinations is almost equal, 5488 and 6188 respectively, but pass percentages in case of B. Sc. students in nearly 4 points less than that of Pre-Medical students.
(ii) Against 18.4% students getting 1st division in Pre-Medical Examination only 12.2% students are placed in the first Division in B. Sc. (Medical) group. The number of second divisioners in those examinations is almost equal, only slightly inclined in favour of Pre-Medical students; and there are 8% more third divisioners in B. Sc. group than Pre-Medical Group. It is clear, therefore, that quantitatively as well as qualitatively the performance of Pre-Medical students is better than that of B. Sc. students.
(iii) Among top first divisioners, however, students getting more than 70% marks show higher percentage in B. Sc. class than Pre-Medical class. Against just 14% students getting 70% or more marks in the Pre-Medical class about 21% B. Sc. students fall in this category. In short so far as excellence in results is concerned, performance of B. Sc. students is much better than Pre-Medical students. This may be due to the presence of the subject of English in the course of studies for Pre-Medical students because it is commonly felt that general performance of students in this subject is on the low side. But this is only a speculation. An analysis of subject-results looks to be necessary before any judgment can be given on this issue.'
17. Regarding the combined percentage of admissions to the Medical Colleges at Amritsar and Patiala, he found that the percentage of B. Scs. admitted to the M.B.B.S. Course had been very low till 1970, but had risen to 35 in 1971. As a result of the comparison of performance in Medical studies of B. Sc. pass and Pre-medical pass candidates admitted to the M.B.B.S. course, Dr. Sharma found that the question of comparing their performance in the period 1963 to 1967 did not arise as only very few B. Scs. had been admitted to the M.B.B.S. Course during those years. He recorded a finding that the data for the subsequent yeas was too inadequate to suggest any specific conclusion. From the data available he found that in 1966, the B. Scs. showed better performance than the Pre-Medical students; in 1967 and 1968, the position got changed; in 1969 both the categories of students got at par and the results of 1970 onwards had yet to be seen. According to Dr. Sharma true picture would emerge in this respect in 1974 when results of all the three professional examinations would be available for those admitted in 1970.
The conclusion arrived at by Dr. Sharma in this respect is that till 1964, nothing significant can be inferred. Opinions of teachers of Medical Colleges were also elicited. The finding of Dr. Sharma is that teachers would require at least four to five years more to have sufficient evidence to form the basis of their opinion with regard to the relative performance of the two categories of students. The teacher had, however, unanimously opined that the seats among Pre-Medical Pass and B. Sc. pass should be suitably apportioned though they could not give any unanimous suggestion regarding the ratio which was suggested from 20 per cent. to 50 per cent. seats being reserved for the B. Scs. Following is the final conclusion recorded by Dr. Sharma about the comparative pass percentages of B. Sc. pass and Pre-Medical Pass students admitted to the M.B.B.S. course:--
'The pass percentage of the Pre-Medical examination (1971) standing at 61.4 is higher by 4 points than the pass percentage in the B. Sc. examination. And against 12.2 per cent.. B. Sc. students getting first class, 18.4 per cent. Pre-Medical students are placed in the first division. But the quality of the first division of the Pre-Medical students is inferior to that of B. Sc. students. Against a percentage of 14 students getting more than 70 per cent. in the Pre-Medical examination, 21 per cent. B. Sc. students obtain 70 per cent., or more marks.'
18. Mr. Wasu referred to the above quoted percentage from the report of Dr. Sharma to make out a nexus between the impugned provision and the object of regulating admissions to the M.B.B.S. Course. By the time he finished reading the report he seemed to have himself realised that the report cannot possibly help him for that purpose. Dr. Sharma did not reach the conclusion that Pre-Medical (Pass) students fare better than the B. Sc. (pass) Students in the M.B.B.S. Nor did he try to find the difference between the quality of B. Sc. (Pass) M.B.B.S. doctors on the one hand and Pre-Medical (Pass) M.B.B.S. doctors on the other. The averment in the written statement of the Guru Nanak University to the effect that the new rule has been made 'in the interest of efficiency in the profession' has neither been shown to be based on any factual date nor seems to be otherwise probable. Dr. Sharma's report does not therefore, help in finding any nexus between the new provision and the object of the relevant statues.
19. The learned Advocate-General then referred to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Ku. Chitra Ghosh v. Union of India, AIR 1970 SC 35, wherein reservation of certain seats in Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi, for certain categories of persons was held to be no violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. On the facts of that case it was held that the classification in all those cases was based on intelligible differentia which distinguished them from the group to which Kumari Chitra Ghosh and another belonged. That case as well as the following three cases to which Mr. Kuldip Singh, Bar-at-Law referred were concerned with valid or invalid classification or grouping of candidates, and were not concerned with the question of the classification being intra vires Article 14 or being ultra vires Article 14 of the constitution on account of the existence or non-existence of a rational relation to the objects of the relevant statute:--
(i) Rao Shiv Bahadur Singh v. State of Vindhya Pradesh, AIR 1953 SC 394;
(ii) Jyoti Pershad v. Administrator for the Union Territory of Delhi, AIR 1961 SC 1602; and
(iii) Ram Bux v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1963 SC 351.
20. The last submission of Mr. Wasu was that the aim of the impugned provision is to give fair representation to Pre-Medical (pass) students and to avoid preponderance of B. Sc., (Pass) students in the matter of admission to the M.B.B.S. Course. Reference was made by him in this connection to paragraph 2 of Annexure 'C' wherein the Government had suggested such a course being adopted to avoid B. Sc. candidates gaining undue preponderance over those coming out for admission after doing Pre-Medical. Though the statistics collected by Dr. Sharma show that the highest percentage of B. Sc. candidates so far admitted in the Government Medical colleges in Punjab taken together never exceeded 35, let us assume that the aim of making the impugned provision was to keep out the First Division B. Sc. candidates who would otherwise have got admission to the M.B.B.S. Course in order to make room for simple Pre-Medical (Pass) Students who might be only second divisioners (getting more than 50 per cent. marks). The impugned provision cannot, in my opinion, be sustained even on this assumption.
The respondents have failed to produce before us any material from which it can be inferred that even second divisioner Pre-Medical (pass) students are likely to fare better than a First Divisioner B. Sc. or M. Sc. candidate (who missed the First Division in the Pre-medical), or would make a better doctor after passing the M.B.B.S. In fact it seems to be difficult to conceive that anyone who has, after passing the Pre-Medical Examination, studied at least three subjects out of Botany, Zoology, Chemistry, Physics, Physiology, Human Anatomy and Biochemistry for two years would be worse off as an M.B.B.S. student than a mere Pre-Medical (pass) candidate simply because the First Class Science Graduate failed to obtain 60 per cent. marks in his Pre-Medical Examination. An attempt to exclude candidates with an equivalent qualification so as to give sufficient representation to candidates having another particular type of equivalent qualification was struck down by the Supreme Court in U. S. V. Balaram's case, AIR 1972 SC 1375(supra). The attempt made in the instant cases is much more repugnant to Article 14 than the one which was made in Balaram's case. Dr. Sharma's study has shown inter alia:--
(i) that the pass percentage in B. Sc. is not higher than in the Pre-Medical Examination:
(ii) that the percentage of candidates who secure First Division in B. Sc. is lower than those who secure First Division in the Pre-Medical Examination;
(iii) that proportionately the number of students who secure more than 70 per cent.. marks in higher in B. Sc. than in the Pre-Medical;
(iv) that 'so far as excellence in results is concerned, performance of B. Sc. students is naturally much better than Pre-Medical students; and
(v) that 'the quality of the First Division of the Pre-Medical students is inferior to that of B. Sc. students.'
21. As to why the Universities want to place Pre-Medical (Pass) candidates with 50 per cent. marks on a higher pedestal than the First class Graduates with 59 per cent. marks in the Pre-Medical Examination, in the face of the above-quoted facts, is beyond my comprehension.
22. Selection has to be made out of the entire body of eligible candidates for admission to the M.B.B.S. Course. Each member of that body is entitled to be treated in the same manner. The body of the candidates is divided into two categories or groups, namely (i) Pre-Medical (pass) candidates securing at least 50 per cent. marks; and (ii) First Class B. Sc. (pass) or First Class M. Sc. (Pass) candidates who secured at least 60 per cent.. marks in the Pre-Medical Examination. It is significant that members of the first category are entitled to seek admission on the basis of their Pre-Medical Examination results even if they pass in the second division. Here is an illustration of the starling consequences to which the condition imposed on the second category leads.
Whereas a Pre-Medical (Pass) candidate securing more than 50 per cent., but less than 60 per cent. marks can seek admission on the basis of the result of his Pre-Medical Examination, he cannot claim preference over another such person after he passes B. Sc. or M. Sc. in the First Division securing at least 60 per cent. marks in the essential subjects even if he tops the University in his graduation course. If he wants to try his admission in the Government Medical Colleges after passing M. Sc. with distinction on the basis of his M. Sc. degree, he must still have his merit weighed on the basis of his Second Division Pre-Medical Examination Marks. This does not appear to be consistent with the object of admitting the best available talent to the M.B.B.S. Course. I can understand a high pass percentage being prescribed for Graduates who wish to seek admission on the basis of their B. Sc. or M. Sc. degrees as against lower pass percentage being prescribed for those who seek admission on the basis of their results in the Pre-Medical Examination. What I do not understand is the logic behind making the consideration of their First Class degrees being made conditional on their having passed the Pre-medical also in the First Division.
23. The marks which had been obtained by First Class Graduates or double Graduates in their Pre-Medical Examination some years ago cannot normally serve as a test for judging the ability and knowledge of the Graduates for the purpose of determining their merit for admission to the M.B.B.S. Course. The relevant time for judging the merit of the rival candidates is the time of the proposed admission to the Medical College. Any First Class Graduate who has studied subjects like Physiology, Human Anatomy and Biochemistry in the course of his degree classes cannot be considered to be inferior to a Pre-Medical (Pass) candidate who has secured more than 50 per cent. marks merely because the Graduate had secured a few marks less than sixty per cent. in the Pre-Medical Examination.
24. Another argument pressed by the learned counsel for the respondents to establish a rational connection between the impugned provision and the object sought to be achieved by the relevant statutes was that 'a younger candidate after obtaining an M.B.B.S. degree can further afford to do some specialization in the field of medicine (or surgery).' This averment in the return of the Guru Nanak University on which Mr. Kuldip Singh has laid emphasis is, in my opinion, inconsistent with the statute as it stands. Firstly, the regulation does not prescribe any maximum age for admission to the M.B.B.S. Course. One who passed his Pre-Medical Examination ten years ago securing more than 60 per cent. marks can seek admission to the M.B.B.S. Course if he has passed B. Sc. with essential subjects securing 60 per cent. or more marks in 1972, though he might be about thirty years old, at this time. Secondly, the regulation really aims at keeping out too young students by prescribing the minimum age for admission as 17 years on a specified date in the year of admission. Amarjit Singh petitioner was not considered for admission in 1970, as he was below 17 years at that time.
Thirdly, there is no appreciable difference between the normal age of a Graduate and an under-Graduate (difference of about two years) from the point of view of having enough life time left for higher studies or research in medicine or surgery. Fourthly, how does the University consider a First Class Graduate with 60 per cent. or more marks in the Pre-Medical Examination younger than a First Class Graduate with less than 60 per cent. marks in the Pre-Medical Examination? The impugned differential lies in the percentage of marks obtained by a Graduate in the Pre-Medical Examination. That has nothing to do with age. Fifthly, comparatively maturer persons in age are usually more fitted in higher studies and for research than very young boys and girls. All this shows that the defence put up by the respondents about the consideration of age having led to the making of the impugned provision is nothing less than a hoax. If the University, which is the sold judge of what is the best for the students really wants to keep out older candidates from the M.B.B.S. Course, there is prima facie no bar to its laying down the maximum age up to which persons can seek admission to the course.
25. The next justification offered by the respondents in support of the impugned provision was that it was intended to give fair representation to Pre-Medical (Pass) candidates as well as the B. Sc. candidates. Talk of representation of different categories smacks more of politics than educational propriety. The sole criterion for admission to the professional courses should be pure merit and ability (subject to age restrictions and other legal restrictions), and no question of giving proportional representation should normally arise in these matters. The argument of Mr. Kuldip Singh about the attempt of the Universities to draw the best talent out of all the three categories, i.e., out of M. Sc., B. Sc., and Pre-Medical (Pass) candidates is also fallacious as the best talent out of the three categories can be drawn only if persons securing a specified percentage of marks in M. Sc. are exhausted in the order of their inter se merit, and then eligible First Class B. Scs. are exhausted in accordance with their merit, and their merit and the remaining seats are offered to those who claim admission merely on the basis of having passed the Pre-Medical Examination securing more than 50 per cent. marks in the order of their inter se merit. Mr. Kuldip Singh has assumed that M. Sc. and B. Sc. and Pre-Medical (Pass) candidates constitute three separate sources from which candidates can be drawn. This does not appear to be correct. The source from which admission has to be made to the M.B.B.S. course is the general body of qualified candidates. The fixing of any proportion of seats to be given to them on open merit basis by grouping them either on geographical basis or on any other hypothetical basis is bound to come into conflict with Article 14.
26. There is no quarrel with the proposition of law vehemently canvassed by Mr. Kuldip Singh to the effect that two classes not similarly situate cannot claim similar treatment and discriminatory treatment meted out to dissimilarly situated classes cannot be held to violate Article 14. In my opinion, however, two First Division B. Sc.(Pass) candidates cannot be said to be dissimilar to each other in the matter of their educational qualifications or normal ability merely because one happened to secure 59 per cent. marks in the Pre-Medical and other secured 60 per cent. or more marks in that Examination. Reference by Mr. Kuldip Singh to the judgment of the Division Bench (Harbans Singh, A. C. J., and Sandhawalia, J.) dated July 14, 1969, in Civil Writ No. 1597 of 1969 (Punj.), Subhash Chander v. State of Haryana, is irrelevant as all that was held in that case was that it is not for the High Court to go into matters like recognising or not recognising the equivalent degrees or examinations of other Universities by the Syndicate of a Particular University, as the Syndicate of the University is the best body to determine whether in certain circumstances a particular examination in another University or Board is to be recognised as equivalent or not. No such question arises in the case heard by us.
27. For the foregoing reasons, I would allow all these writ petitions, though without any order as to costs, and hold that the differential (of requiring at least 60 per cent. marks in the Pre-Medical Examination being a condition precedent for First Class Science Graduates seeking admission on the basis of their First Class degree) has no reasonable nexus or rational relationship with the object of admitting the best students to the M.B.B.S. Course. This innovation is held to be violative of Article 14 of the Constitution and cannot, therefore, be sustained. I would, accordingly strike down the requirement of First Class B. Sc. and M. Sc. candidates for admission to the M.B.B.S. course being required to obtain at least 60 per cent. marks in the Pre-Medical examination in order to be considered on the basis of their B. Sc. or M. Sc. degrees and direct the respondents to consider the case of the petitioners for admission to the M.B.B.S. course in the Medical College at Amritsar or Patiala on the basis of their B. Sc. degrees without insisting on their having secured 60 per cent. or more marks in the Pre-Medical Examination.
D.K. Mahajan, J.
28. I agree.
29. Petitions allowed.