1. Petitioner Miss Manveen Dhillon secured 70 per cent marks in the Indian Schools Certificate Examination, which she passed in the year 1976 from the Sacred Heart Girls High School, Bangalore. She obtained 72 per cent marks in the Pre-Medical Examination, which she passed in the year 1979 from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. On the recommendation of the Medical Council of India, the State of Punjab decided to hold on behalf of the Medical Colleges in the State a common competitive entrance examination for admission to the Government Medical/Dental Colleges in the State of Punjab. The said examination was held on June 20, 1979. The petitioner secured 11th position in the competitive examination on the basis of merit. The relevant part of the decision of the State Government, as contained in the prospectus issued for and on behalf of the Government of Punjab (Department of Health and Family Welfare) and Government Medical/Dental Colleges in the Punjab State is reproduced as under:--
'1.3: Admission to the Medical/Dental colleges shall be based on the relative merit of candidates determined on the result of the entrance examination subject to reservation of seats for the scheduled castes/tribes and any other category specified by the State Government.' The provision of instruction contained in para 1.6 in the same booklet is as under: 'l.6: The date and place of admission to colleges will be notified by the Principals of Government Medical Colleges, at Amritsar, Patiala end Faridkot and the Principal, Government Dental College, Amritsar. After the result of the Competitive Entrance Examination has been declared the candidates for admission to Government Medical/Dental Colleges will forward a detailed application on the prescribed form (obtainable from the Principals of these colleges) to the Principal, Medical/Dental College, Amritsar who will process the joint admission this year, (1979). Mere qualifying in the best will not give a right to the candidate for admission against the category claimed by him/her.'
2. In pursuance to the decision as contained in para 1.3 the petitioner was entitled to be admitted to M. B. B. S. Course in view of high merit obtained by her in the competitive entrance examination, as the numbers of seats to be filled in were 360 whereas the petitioner secured 11th position in merit. However, she has been refused admission by the Principal, Government Medical College, Amritsar on the ground that she had failed to submit a detailed application on the prescribed form before July 16, 1979 to the Principal. It may be pointed out that the interview for the admission of the candidates who were entitled to be admitted on merit, was fixed for July 20, 1979 at Amritsar.
3. It has been averred in the petition, which is supported by affidavit of the father of the minor petitioner, that the petitioner sent duly filled in application form to the Principal, Government Medical College, Amritsar on July 12, 1979 under Postal Certificate from Amritsar. It has further been alleged in Para 9 of the petition that the petitioner was anxiously waiting for intimation regarding the date and place of admission, but as she did not receive any intimation till July 19, 1979 she along with her father contacted the Principal, Government Medical College, Amritsar on July 19, 1979 and requested her that she be allowed interview on July 20, 1979. The Principal told the petitioner that she having not submitted her application form till July 16, 1979 and the same having not been received, she could not be allowed to appear for interview on July 20, 1979. The petitioner and her father then contacted the Vice-Chancellor of the Guru Nanak Dev University, who directed the petitioner to approach the Pro-Vice-Chancellor. It has been further averred that the Pro-Vice-Chancellor tried to contact the Principal on telephone, but she was not available. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor then suggested to the father of the petitioner to proceed to Chandigarh and contact the Secretary to Government Punjab, Health Department. The petitioner's father immediately proceeded to Chandigarh and tried to contact the Secretary to Government, Punjab, Health Department, but he was not available. He then tried to contact the Director, Medical Education, Punjab, but he was unfortunately on tour. The petitioner then filed this writ petition in this Court. The Bench while issuing notice of motion in the petition directed that one Seat map be kept vacant for the petitioner and by another interim order dated 8th August, 1979, she was directed to be given admission provisionally In the college where the seat pas kept vacant for her. The petitioner thus stands admitted provisionally to the Medical College, Amritsar.
4. In the return filed on behalf of the principal, it has been pleaded that the petitioner's application form alleged to have been sent on July 12, 1979 was never received in the office of the Principal and thus she having failed to submit the application form before July 10, 1979 could not be interviewed on July 20, 1979 and thus was not entitled to seek admission to the Course. The averments made in para 9 of the writ petition, wherein it has been specifically averred that the petitioner and her father produced the 'Postal Certificate' before the Principal on 19th July, 1979 have not been speci8cally denied in the return. Similarly the averments made in the petition that the petitioner approached the various authority including the Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Guru Nanak Dev University have also not been denied in the return. It has, however, been averred that the plea taken by the petitioner that she submitted the application form July 12, 1979, is incorrect, because petitioner's father sent a communication dated July 11, 1979 to the Principal, Government Medical College, Amritsar, requesting for the supply of application form for admission to be sent at the address given in the letter It may be pointed out that the petitioner's father is working as Chief Personnel Manager, Bharat Aluminium Company Limited, a Government undertaking, in Bilaspur District of Madhya Pradesh. Reliance has also been placed on another letter dated July 12, 1979, addressed by the father of the petitioner to the Principal, in which it was mentioned that he had wrongly mentioned the roll number of his daughter in the earlier letter written on July 11, 1979. Copies of the said letters are Annexures R-1 and R-2 with the return.
5. It has further been averred in the return, that to begin with an advertisement was made in the daily 'Tribune' on Tune 11, 1979, in which it was mentioned that the applications complete in all respects accompanied by a Crossed Indian Postal Order for Re. 1/- in the name of Principal, Government Medical College, Amritsar, a registration fee, must reach the office of the Principal, Government Medical College, Amritsar on or before June 30, 1979 before 5.00 p. m. It is not disputed that the result of the competitive examination was declared an July 6, 1979. Therefore, the above-mentioned advertisement had be come meaningless. In view of this another advertisement was published on June 26, 1979, in the daily 'Tribune' in which it was published that the date for submitting the applications was being extended from June 30, 1979 to July 16, 1979. In view of this advertisement it has been pleaded that since the application of the petitioner had not been received till July 16, 1979, therefore, the petitioner could not be allowed to be interviewed on July 20, 1979,.thougk she was available on that day.
6. An additional affidavit by way of replication has been filed by the father of the petitioner wherein it has been averred that he (the deponent) is working as Chief Personnel Manager in Bharat Aluminium Company at Korba, situated in District Bilaspur of Madhya Pradesh, a place situated at a distance of about 100 KMs from the District Headquarters and the means of communication are such that the Dak has to be sent 55 KMs away to Champa Station, situated on Railway Main Line on Bombay-Howrah route. It has been averred therein that the deponent dictated and signed the letter, which is Annexure R-1, on July 10, 1979. It was sent by his P. A. to the Post Office for registration on July 11, 1979 and he put that date on the letter. Besides writing to the Principal, the deponent also wrote to his relatives at Amritsar separately so that they could also get a copy of the form. It has been further averred that since the petitioner was getting restive, so she was sent by Kalinga Express leaving Bi4aspur on July 10, 1979 in the after noon and she reached Amritsar on July 11, 1979 by Flying Mail, after catching the connecting train at Delhi. She straightway went to her uncle, who lives on the outskirts of Amritsar, who was already obtained an application form. She filled in the form and the same was posted along with the Postal Order for Re. 1/- under Postal Certificate on July 12, 1979, to the address of Principal, Government Medical College, Amritsar.
7. At the time of the hearing the learned counsel for the petitioner has produced before me the original 'Certi8cate of Posting' and also the counterfoil of the Postal Order of Re. 1/- in the name of the Principal, Government Medical College, Amritsar. This Postal Order is dated July 12, 1979. Similarly the Certificate of Posting also pertains to the same date from Amritsar.
8. Even though averments have been made in the petition that the petitioner's application was purposely not enlisted to enable some candidate down below on the merit list to be admitted against the vacancy, which would have been caused by the petitioner's being refused admission, but nothing has been brought on #he record to substantiate this contention. This appears to be only the apprehension of the petitioner, who naturally having been placed at number 11 of the merit list was refused interview on Judy 20, 1979 though she made herself available for interview. There is nothing on the record to substantiate any allegation of mala fide against the principal. Therefore, this averment of the petitioner is without any base. However, the non-registration of the application of the petitioner in the office of the Principal of the College can be explained in two ways either the application was not sent, as alleged on behalf of the respondents; or if the same was sent, the same might have been misplaced as hundreds of such applications were being received in the office of the Principal. As I have already observed, the Postal Certificate in original dated 11th July, 1979 and also counterfoil of the Postal Order in original of the same date were produced before me. This Postal Certificate would suggest that a letter was posted to the Principal, Medical College, Amritsar, but it cannot be said that posted letter was in fact the application form. However, the counterfoil of the Postal Order suggests that the same was purchased in the name of the Principal, Government Medical College, Amritsar on 12th July, 1979. It is pertinent to note that in the petition a specific averment has been made that the Certificate of Posting was shown to the Principal on July 19, 1979, by the petitioner and her father, when they appeared before her. This fact has not been denied by the Principal. This would suggest that the postal receipt was in possession of the petitioner even on July 19, 1979 when there was no question of she having conceived to file this petition in this Court, as at that time it was not certain that the Principal would refuse the admission and that the petitioner will be compelled to file a writ petition in this Court. This provides intrinsic evidence that the petitioner sent an application on July 12, 1979. It is clear that when a certificate of posting is produced, the presumption is attached that the posted material reached the other end. Reference in this matter may be made to the decision of their Lordships of the Privy Council in the matter of Part cargo ex-steamship 'Belgia', AIR 1918 PC 338, and decision of the Calcutta High Court in Sm. Kanak Lata Ghose v. Amal Kumar Ghose, AIR 1970 Cal 328. The mere assertion on the part of the authorities that the posted letter was not received, is not enough to counter-act the presumption so raise, as has been held in Sm. Kanak Lata Ghose's case (supra). Since no other letter has been produced by the Principal, which may entitle the Court to draw an inference that by the said postal certificate pertains to some ether communication, therefore, it appears that the application of the petitioner, reached the other end but was not registered and it appears that it must have been due to the mistake of the ministerial staff handling the said work in the College. In this view of the matter, she was entitled to be interviewed. Moreover, it is not disputed that in interview only the original testimonials etc. had to be scrutinised and the merit had already been adjudged in the competitive examination held.
9. The matter can be viewed from another angle as well. As is clear from the reading of para 1.3 of the prospectus reproduced in the earlier part of the judgment regarding the decision of the State Government in respect of admission, that the admission to the Medical/ Dental Colleges was to be given on the basis of the merit, which a candidates obtained in the combined competitive examination. The right to get admission flows from the merit, which was to be prepared on the result of entrance examination. It is not disputed that the petitioner was at No: 11 on the merit list, the number of seats for M. B. B. S. Course is fixed 360. She was, therefore, quite high up in the merit. It is no doubt true that under para 1.6 referred to above, a candidate was required to submit another application in the prescribed form to the Principal But in the said paragraph no such last date for submission of the application was fixed, even though the date for the competitive examination has been mentioned in the decision. It is, however, correct that by advertisement, the Principal fixed the last date for the receipt of application, but the question still remains that if an application is not received by the last date and is received a day later, will this just disentitled the candidate to get admission, if on merit the candidate is entitled to be admitted. To my view the fixing of the last date for receipt of application is merely to enable the College Principal to expedite the finalization of admission.
This particular question has to be examined in the background of the facts and circumstances of this case. It is not disputed that each of the candidates, who participated in the competitive entrance examination, submitted the application form which contained all relevant details regarding the candidate and his/her educational qualifications etc. The submission of the second application form, after the result of the competitive entrance examination was declared, was merely a formality so as to enable the College authorities to find out if the candidate, keeping in view his place in merit secured in the competitive entrance examination and the number of seats to be filled in, was. entitled to be admitted or not. The material particulars to be supplied in the second application form were almost the same as had already been supplied in. the form on the basis of which the petitioner was allowed to appear in the competitive entrance examination. As is clear, the right. to get admission flows from the merit and for no other reason. Interview of the candidates fixed on 20th July,. 1979, was merely for the purpose that the authorities may feel satisfied that the candidate concerned deserved to be admitted in view of his merit and that the testimonials in support of his/her educational qualifications were genuine. It is the admitted case between the parties that the interviewing Board had nothing to add regarding the merit of the candidates at the time of the interview, but it was only to scrutinise the certificates concerning the educational qualifications of the candidates and to find out whether in view of the seats available, the candidates deserved to be admitted on merit or not. Even if a candidate had not submitted his application form till l6th July, 1979, but if he/she appeared before the interviewing. Board for interview the application form should have been received even at that stage. It may be a different case if a candidate is not available for interview, but in the present case; it is not disputed that the petitioner did meet the Principal on 19th July, 1979, and prayed that 5he be interviewed on 20th July, 1979, and submitted that she had also submitted her'2nd application form by registered post on 12th July, 1979. Even if the said form had not been received, she could be asked to fill in another form, but the authorities stuck to their stand that since the second application form had not been received till 16th July, 1979, therefore she was debarred from getting admission. As already observed the right to get admission flows from the merit and the fact remains that the earlier application form containing all the necessary particulars, had been submitted in pursuance to which the petitioner was allowed to compete in the competitive entrance examination. The submission of second application form was merely a formality which could be complied with at any stage before the interview.
10. Thus seen from any angle, the petitioner is entitled to be admitted to the M. B. B. S. Class of the Government Medical College, Amritsar. She has already been provisionally admitted in view of the interim orders passed by this Court. If the application form of the petitioner is not traceable in the office of the Collage, she should sign the duly filled in form and submit to the Principal. However, the Principal shall be entitled to satisfy herself about the educational qualifications of the petitioner and she shall furnish all necessary certificates to the Principal for her satisfaction. On this having been done, and if the Principal finds the certificates of the petitioner in order, the provisional admission' given to the petitioner in the M. B. B. S. Class shall be made final. I order accordingly. There will be no order as to costs.
11. Petition allowed.